Tohu Whenua: Rākaumangamanga - Cape Brett


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Rākaumangamanga - Cape Brett at the entrance of the Bay of Islands simply has everything. 

There’s a spectacular headland, stunning views onto Motukokako Island with its famous Hole in the Rock, seals and dolphins and a historic lighthouse with a keeper’s cottage where you can stay for a night or two.

Rākaumangamanga is steeped in heritage, with a 1,000-year history of signalling sailors arriving in New Zealand. It was the landing point of the first seven waka that travelled from Hawaiiki to Aotearoa, whose occupants followed the dawn light reflecting off the peninsula’s crystalline rocks. The seven distinctive peaks that mark Cape Brett's spine represent those first seven waka. 

In 1906 Cape Brett became the site of a lighthouse that continued to light a safe passage for new arrivals.

The 14-metre lighthouse protected seafarers from the rugged coast for over 70 years. It was looked after by up to three families at a time – over 100 keepers in its lifetime –  who also acted as postmasters, weathermen, butchers, gardeners, carpenters, painters and anything else that needed doing in this remote location. 

You can get to Cape Brett either via a beautiful day-long hike from Rāwhiti or a 35-minute boat or water taxi ride from Paihia. The last of the lighthouse keepers cottages has been converted to a bookable tramping hut by the Department of Conservation and is an epic place to watch the sunrise over the ocean.

Rākaumangamanga - Cape Brett is recognised as a Tohu Whenua, one of Aotearoa New Zealand’s most treasured heritage places. The lighthouse is proudly cared for by the Department of Conservation Te Papa Atawhai.

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