At the very top of the North Island, you will find the Maori’s most spiritual place, where the Tasman sea collides with the Pacific Ocean. It is called Cape Reinga and if you haven’t taken a photo of the lighthouse here then you can’t really say you have really explored New Zealand properly. The lighthouse itself is a tourist attraction because it is obviously located at a very beautiful location and has guided many ships throughout the years but For Māori, Cape Reinga is the most spiritually significant place in New Zealand.
It is here that after death, all Maori spirits travel up the coast and over the wind-swept landscape to the Pohutukawa tree on the headland of Te Rerenga Wairua. They descend into the underworld (reinga) by sliding down a root into the sea below. The spirits then travel underwater to the Three Kings Islands where they climb out onto Ohaua, the highest point of the islands and bid their last farewell before returning to the land of their ancestors, Hawaiiki-A-Nui.
Cape Reinga marks the separation of the Tasman Sea (to the west) from the Pacific Ocean. For Maori, these rough, swirling waters are where the male sea Te Moana Tapokopoko a Tawhaki meets the female sea Te Tai o Whitireia. “The whirlpools where the currents clash are like those that dance in the wake of a canoe. They represent the coming together of male and female – and the creation of life”