Cape Reinga Lighthouse, New Zealand

Cape Reinga Lighthouse is one of New Zealand’s most popular tourist attractions.

Cape Reinga Lighthouse, at the northern tip of New Zealand, is 100 km from the nearest small town. It is one of New Zealand’s most popular tourist attractions, with approximately 1,000 visitors a day during peak season. Tourists arrive at Cape Reinga by bus or car after having traveled along Ninety Mile Beach, then walking the short track to the lighthouse. There they look out over the spot where the Tasman Sea meets the Pacific Ocean. These waters are very turbulent, with waves reaching up to ten meters during stormy weather.

History of the Lighthouse

Originally, the lighthouse at the north of New Zealand was called Cape Maria Van Deimen Lighthouse. It was built in 1879 and located on Motuopao Island. Access to the island and the lighthouse was difficult, because of consistently rough seas. A flying fox was built, enabling the delivery of supplies to the lighthouse. In 1933 the assistant lighthouse keepers wife was swept off the rocks and so it was decided that the lighthouse should be relocated to the mainland.

The current lighthouse at Cape Reinga was built in 1941. In January that year the lens and lantern room were removed from the old lighthouse and replaced in the new structure. The new lighthouse light was first lit in May of that year. The light didn’t operate very often at first, because of the blackout restrictions during World War 11. Cape Reinga was the last manned lighthouse to be built in New Zealand

Initially the lighthouse at Cape Reinga was a two keeper station, but the lighthouse was automated in 1987 and now it’s operated by Maritime New Zealand in the capital city of Wellington.

About Cape Reinga Lighthouse

The lighthouse at Cape Reinga is a concrete octagonal tower, elevated 10 meters above sea level. The 1941 light was originally powered by diesel generated electricity, but its power source is now batteries charged by solar panels.

Cape Reinga’s light flashes every 12 seconds, warning approaching vessels up to 35 km away of the dangers ahead.

Maori Mythology

Cape Reinga has a significance for Maori people of New Zealand. An old, gnarled pohutukawa tree, believed to be over 800 years old, is said to be the departure point for Maori souls traveling back to their traditional homeland, Hawaiki.

Cape Reinga is part of the North Cape, said to be the tail of the fish of Maui in the creation legend of the formation of the North Island of New Zealand.

New Zealand Tourist Attraction

Although Cape Reinga Lighthouse is quite a distance from any major city, it is worth the effort of going to experience this historic site. The views, the lighthouse and the remote feeling of being at the end of the world are things that tourists will remember long after their visit is over.

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