View southwest over Te Werahi Beach from Cape Reinga
Cape Reinga, near the northern extremity of mainland New Zealand, is a popular destination for tourists travelling north along the remote Aupouri Peninsula, north of Kaitaia. Both the peninsulas Pacific and Tasman coasts are characterised by enormous dune fields, especially so on the Tasman (western) side where beach sand carried north by coastal currents from as far away as Taranaki is blown inland in huge quantities by the prevailing southwesterly winds. Much of the peninsula is formed from coastal sand deposits of varying ages, linking together outcrops of volcanic rock that were formerly islands (such as that which makes up Cape Reinga itself).
Cape Maria van Diemen, in the far right of this photograph, is another volcanic remnant that has been joined to the mainland by the accumulation of sand, a process that continues to add millions of tonnes of new sand to the coast here every year. The volcanic outcrops themselves are geologically uncommon, being formed of particularly dense, mineral-rich (ultramafic) rocks, and on these can be found several rare plant species that are not known anywhere else in New Zealand.
Far northern New Zealand is also occasionally visited by tropical cyclones that move south out of the subtropical Pacific Ocean in summer and autumn. This photograph was taken on the day following the passage of Tropical Cyclone Ivy, a moderate late-summer cyclone that passed a few hundred kilometres northeast of Cape Reinga in March 2004. Whilst the two-metre westerly swell seen in this photograph looked impressive, at the same time an eight-metre northeasterly swell was pounding the other side of Cape Reinga!