The bay is 12 kilometres in width. It is one of two bays (the other being Tom Bowling Bay) in the short length of coast that marks the tip of the North Island. A long walking path, about 8.5 kilometers (5.3 miles) long, runs beside the bay.
Maori cultural significance
The bay is considered a sacred place in Maori culture as according to local legend, it is the location where spirits of the dead gather to depart from this world to travel to their ancestral home (or afterlife) from a large old pōhutukawa tree above the bay.
A Māori name for Spirits Bay, Kapowairua (meaning to "catch the spirit"), comes from a Maori language saying that translates into English as: "I can shelter from the wind. But I cannot shelter from the longing for my daughter. I shall venture as far as Hokianga, and beyond. Your task (should I die) shall be to grasp my spirit." The words were spoken by Tōhē, a chief of the Ngāti Kahu people, who is considered one of Muriwhenua’s most important ancestors. Tōhē made his way south, naming more than one hundred places along the western coast, until dying at Whāngaiariki near Maunganui Bluff.
Nature and wildlife
History and in the media
In September 2010, it was reported that more than eighty pilot whales were beached over five kilometers at Spirits Bay. About forty of these were believed to have died, including some that drowned and others that were euthanized because of injuries from rocks. The rest of the whales were relocated to Rarawa Beach because the weather and sea conditions at Spirits Bay meant refloating the whales there was not possible. Most of the pilot whales that were refloated at Rarawa Beach survived. It was considered to be the largest whale transport ever attempted. This mass whale stranding occurred a month after a pod of fifty-eight pilot whales became stranded at Karikari Beach.
In a late 2010 article published on stuff.co.nz, Spirits Bay was named as one of the "Top 10 haunted spots in Aotearoa", being suggested as possibly New Zealand's most famous spot for supernatural beings. It is claimed that during the night hours, groups of spirits and individuals can be seen to move down the sand to a particular point and then disappear, refusing to be distracted on the way.
- Spirits Bay (Kapowairua) Retrieved December 2011
- 1. Ancestors - Muriwhenua tribes - Te Ara Encyclopedia of New Zealand Retrieved December 2011
- Spirits Bay New Zealand | Kapowairua | Cape Reinga | NZ North Island Retrieved December 2011
- http://news.msn.co.nz/ Pilot whales beached at Spirits Bay Retrieved December 2011
- More than 40 stranded whales die – national Stuff.co.nz Retrieved December 2011
- Spirits Bay | Otago Daily Times Online News: Otago, South Island, New Zealand Retrieved December 2011
- A dozen Whales refloated, three die - National - NZ Herald News Retrieved December 2011
- More than 40 stranded whales die – national | Stuff.co.nz Retrieved December 2011
- New Zealand's spookiest stories - life-style | stuff.co.nz Retrieved December 2011
- Campers’ top spots New Zealand – Great Barrier Island – NZ Herald News Retrieved December 2011