Cape Reinga, Northland. idea of a country was just too huge in my imagination. It was hard to fathom how there were boundaries; edges that wrapped around a motherland’s entirety. Somehow, facts used to come to me bland, they were almost lies.
But at lunch time last April, after a short downhill walk from where the bus driver dropped us off, we found ourselves standing on the edge of the country. Maori legends spoke of the place as the leaping-off point for the spirits, where the turbulent union of the Tasman Sea and the Pacific Ocean pulls (or pushes, no one knows) the departed into the abyss of forevermore; of heaven.
The lighthouse in Cape Reinga was a fixture. It beaconed like an old friend. It was stout; not as tall as how it was in photographs. I wondered if it still lit up at night, if it still called fishermen home.
Beside the lighthouse where yellow arrows to everywhere. I liked how it conveyed of crossroads, though there weren’t any. The distant horizon was cloaked with clouds. But on a good day, they said, Australia can be seen from the cape.
Australia and Aoteroa. Sisters. Rivals.
“Do they say hello to each other in the morning?” I asked myself.
There were grasses, shrubs all over. There was no need for mowing, I reckoned. The wind in that part of the world was strange; so dense I could almost see limbs grooming the surrounding grassland. Indeed, nature was taking care of itself.
Not far below was the unforgiving waters of Tasman and the Pacific. The half court line came in the form of white froth from waves lapping to opposite directions. How did they mark territories, I never knew.
And of course, there I stood, on the rugged edges of Northland, my kingdom of rock and soil on a constantly losing battle with water. I counted how many more million years it could buy before finally conceding defeat. “More than what I could afford in a lifetime,” I guessed. (I actually managed to bring myself to entertain that particular detail without having to realize if I was ready; if I ever will be.)
By the time my musings trailed as far as wondering if the Pirate of the Caribbean sailed past there, too; if the end of his world was different from the end of mine, the driver coaxed everyone to go back to the bus at once as we still have to go sand boarding in a dune a short drive away from where we were.
I looked back one last time, to the frayed edges of my country– falling apart but holding itself together, still.
Cape Reinga, Aupouri Peninsula
The Far North
422 km from Auckland
5 hrs and 10 mins via SH 1