Backpack the Cape Reinga Coastal Track

Rate this Adventure New Zealand Te Paki

  • Activities:

    Camping, Backpacking, Hiking

  • Skill Level:


  • Season:

    Year Round

  • Trail Type:


  • RT Distance:

    22 Miles


This beautiful multi-day backpacking trek around New Zealand's most Northern land will take you through sand dunes, varieties of wonderfully unique landforms, and provide views of lush blue ocean all along the way. With your choice of camping on idyllic beaches or high hanging coastal cliffs, this trek is as peaceful as it is stunning.

This is a point-to-point trek so you can either begin at Te Paki Stream or the Spirits Bay campsite at Kapowairua. This description starts from the Te Paki Stream. To get here, you need to drive north on SH1/Cape Reigna Road until you reach the tiny village of Te Paki. Turn left onto the Te Paki Stream Road. Take this 2 miles to where it ends at the Giant Te Paki sand dunes parking lot.

The trailhead begins at the Te Paki stream and takes your west for 1.5 miles along the stream and sand dunes until it meets up with 90 mile beach. I've never seen a beach this long in my life, so take a few moments to soak it all in! Then, head North.

After a couple miles of hiking on the beach, the trailhead will appear where the end of the beach meets some coastal hills. The trail is marked with small posts and is well maintained. Follow the trail through the hills for about 1.5 miles and then it will lead onto Twilight Beach.

You are allowed to camp anywhere along this trek, so because of different fitness levels, desires, and multitude of amazing choices, I won't recommend where to camp, but rather just describe the trail.

Hike the length of Twilight beach and then find the trail going up the next set of coastal hills. Follow the trails through this hills for a couple miles until it spits out into a large dune area. The trail can be hard follow at times but essentially you need to head due north across the dune peninsula to meet up with the ocean again. If you have the time, I would recommend exploring the dunes and head out west on the peninsula and climb to the top of the grassy hill at the end called Herengi Hill.

Once you've made your way back to the beach, walk for a couple miles along the shore until you meet up with the coastal hills and make a steep ascent to the Cape Reinga Lighthouse parking lot. The Lighthouse is just a half mile walk down a paved path.

From the Lighthouse parking area, find the trailhead heading east and descend steeply to Sandy Bay. Make sure to spend some time at this surreal little hideout. From here, traverse up and over the hills for 2 miles to Tapotupotu Bay. This beach can be touristy since there is a road leading right down to it, so if you were deciding on whether to camp at Sandy Bay or Tapotupotu Bay, I would definitely choose the former.

You can choose to end your hike at the Tapotupotu Parking lot, or even the Cape Reinga Lighthouse parking lot for that matter, but if you're up for another day of hiking then continue east and up the hill trail again for 3 miles until reaching the beach at Spirits Bay. The beach is about 4-5 miles long and you can finish your trek at the east end of it at Kapowairua campsite and find a ride out from there!

Pack List

-Backpack-Food-Tent-Sleeping Bad-Compass-Flashlight-Water bottle (and purifiers for stream water)-Sunscreen

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Mike FennellExplorer

Professional Landscape Photographer. Currently living in my Sprinter Van and exploring North America

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