You will find the start of the track at the western end of Tapotupotu Bay. The track finishes at Cape Reinga.
5 kilometres (3.1 miles).
This track is suitable for people of moderate fitness. There are two steep uphill sections and one steep downhill section as you walk the direction from Tapotupotu Bay to Cape Reinga.
If you walk this track in wet conditions, the steep downhill section can get muddy and be quite slippery. Some sections of the track may not be accessible at high tide at Sandy Bay (the rough mid point of the walk).
There are toilets available at the Cape Reinga end of the track.
Allow 1.5 to 2 hours for this hike. At the end of the trail it is an extra 10 minute walk from the toilet block to the Cape Reinga Lighthouse.
This is an energetic one and a half hour walk – up, down and up – to the lighthouse at Cape Reinga. Departing from the stunning Tapotupotu Beach (which can be dangerous for swimming) you climb steeply to astonishing views across the clear blue Pacific Ocean to the northeast. Be sure to follow the orange poles as the topography will lead you the wrong way if you’re not careful.
At mid-tide or higher Sandy Bay is a safe spot for a quick swim, which you will usually need as Cape Reinga is the same latitude as the bottom of Africa and it is quite warm. The final climb takes you to the main tourist car park and a further ten minutes on the asphalt track will lead you to the lighthouse.
If you want to get back to Tapotupotu Bay you would have a pretty good chance of thumbing a ride, at least to the turn off from the main road. Or you can return the way you walked; there is only one big uphill stretch on the way back.
Doing this walk to arrive at sunset at Cape Reinga is absolutely wonderful. Gazing out over where the Tasman Sea to the west meets the Pacific Ocean to the east, you can see the Three Kings Islands hanging on the distant horizon. Photograph the orange glow as the sun dips into the ocean. Bring an extra layer of clothing if you’re going to be at the Cape late in the day because there can be a chilly sea breeze.