North Cape (New Zealand)

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North Cape is located in New Zealand
North Cape
North Cape

North Cape is located at the northern end of the Northland Peninsula in the North Island of New Zealand . It is the northeastern tip of the Aupouri Peninsula and lies 30 kilometres (19 mi) east of Cape Reinga. The name is sometimes used to refer just to the cape which is known in Māori as Otou and which overlooks Murimotu Island, and sometimes just to the eastern point of Murimotu Island.[1] It is also used to refer to the whole larger headland stretching about five km from Murimotu Island westwards to Kerr Point (Ngatuatata) and including the Surville Cliffs. This wider North Cape, and specifically the Surville Cliffs, is the northernmost point of mainland New Zealand, being about three km further north than Cape Reinga. This article covers the wider North Cape.

Murimotu Island (foreground) with the Lighthouse just visible on top, Otou just behind the light to the right and Surville Cliffs extending out to the right in the background

North Cape is one of the 4 New Zealand Cardinal Capes[2] North Cape was named by James Cook, Commander of the Endeavour in the 1769-70 voyage. The other Cardinal Capes being named at the time Cape East, West Cape & Cape South.

North Cape was once an island formed by a marine volcano. Sand deposited by ocean currents eventually formed a tombolo known as Waikuku Flat which joined the island to the rest of the Aupouri Peninsula. The headland and flat combined now form the North Cape Peninsula.

A large part of North Cape is enclosed in the North Cape Scientific Reserve. The reserve’s purpose is to protect the unique flora and fauna of the area, some of it endemic to a small area on Surville Cliffs. An electrified fence was erected in 2000 to create a mainland island by excluding the possums, feral pigs and semi-wild horses of the area. The reserve is closed to the public and managed by the Department of Conservation (DoC).

Much of Waikuku Flat is in another DoC reserve, the Mokaikai Scenic Reserve which stretches south to Parengarenga Harbour. This reserve is open to the public but land access is via an area in Māori tribal ownership and a permit is required from the controlling Māori body to cross the land. Another strip of Māori land lies between the Mokaikai reserve and the North Cape reserve. This strip includes the southern part of North Cape and the northern edge of Waikuku Flat. It stretches from Kerr Point and the north end of Tom Bowling Bay on the north coast across to Tokatoka Point on the west coast.


  1. ^ Hooker, Brian (2002). "The problem of North Cape, New Zealand, in maps". New Zealand Map Society Journal. 15: 47–49. Archived from the original on November 2, 2007. Retrieved 2007-12-13. 
  2. ^ Chart Of New Zealand - J Cook 1769-70 [1]. Retrieved on 7 Dec 2017.

Coordinates: 34°24′56″S 173°03′04″E / 34.415463°S 173.051111°E / -34.415463; 173.051111