Next up was Cape Reinga. All I knew was that it is home to an iconic lighthouse and that it is the north-most point in New Zealand. What I was about to find out on the drive up would change my perspective for the better.
As the bus was buzzing with conversation, our gracious bus driver was explaining the history behind Cape Reinga. I was barely paying attention until I heard the word ‘spirits’, and my ears perked up, and I was in full attention mode. I frantically pulled my phone out and started taking notes, and as I did I could feel the goosebumps forming on my body because Cape Reinga is the most sacred and spiritual area in New Zealand.
When Maori’s first came to Aoteroa (New Zealand), they believed that since they were leaving their place of origin, that it would be impossible for them to reunite with their loved ones in the afterlife once they passed away. So, they found a spot that they would deem ‘heaven on Earth’, in which, once they passed, they would wander the Earth for one year as a spirit until they made the journey to Cape Reinga. They would then walk up a hill who’s peak looks over the endless, blue pacific and then they would leap from the cliff’s edge and be brought up to heaven, where they would see their loved ones once again, and spend the rest of eternity with them.
As I hopped off the bus I snuck away from the group; walking in the opposite direction of the crowds, and to a little plateau overlooking the rugged cliffs and powerful waters. Time wasn’t on my side; tears were welling up in my eyes as I was frantically trying to scramble up the steep incline to my solitude. As I sat in the tall grass overlooking the pacific; I wept. I cried for my mom, and for my dad. I cried for my sister, and my aunties, and my grandma, and my friends. I cried because I made this journey possible. I cried because I am loved by so many who are living and so many who have passed. I cried because I love them, too.
I looked over to my left and saw a massive hill in the distance. This was the hill that the spirits were said to climb. I started my journey towards it, and as I did I thought about my life, and what has unfolded so far to get me to this point. I walked in silence and started my assent to the top of the hill. Tears were streaming down my face, and I imagined my parents behind me holding hands and smiling at me as I walked. This was the moment that I felt them the most since I last saw them. I believe that they were really with me that day.
As I looked over the pacific where the Maori’s were said to leap as spirits into the afterlife, I felt at peace. I shed a part of me that day that needed to be let go, and instead of holding on to try and ‘fix’ it; what was left was gratitude for my loved ones and myself. Pretty good trade, eh?
Please, go to Cape Reinga. Spend an hour and drink it in. Let the breeze carry you to the top of the hill, and let it remind you that you are loved.