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Cape Kidnappers Travel Information

Cape Kidnappers - Tapuwaeroa – the long footsteps, according to legend, were made by the giant Rongokako who left other impressions of his feet at Mahia and East Cape. When the great fish that is now the North Island of New Zealand was hauled from the sea by Maui, hero-god of Maori legend, he left his magic fish­hook embedded in the promontory.

The Maoris called the place Matau-a- Maui, the fish-hook of Maui, but it is the name given by Captain James Cook for a much less significant event-the attempted kidnapping of a Tahitian boy from the Endeavour in 1769­, that has persisted.

Cape Kidnappers forms the southernmost point of Hawke's Bay, which sweeps to the north and east in a great sickle-curve, one hundred miles long.

Nearby are the twin cities of Napier and Hastings, spurred on by keen ri­valry, and a few miles to the south of the cape are the re­mains of the Rangaiika whaling station.

Today the cape is remembered by countless visitors to the gannet sanctuary, who have walked, tide permitting, along the beach from Clifton, five and a half miles away, and by a narrow track up the steep cliff above the cape.

At the lighthouse plateau, 360 feet above the sea, there is a colony of nesting gannets, where the birds can be observed at close quarters.

Another larger nesting-place is on the basin between peaks of the cape and there is a third colony on the Black Reef.

In 1880 the Cape Kidnappers colony had only fifty birds; now ten thousand populate the place.

Whether gliding free on the up-draughted air, diving vertically for food into a shoal of fishes, courting, quarrelling, nesting, or feeding young, the gannet (Maori takapu) is fascinating to observe.

New Zealanders are fortunate that these striking, confident birds, who most frequently live on inaccessible offshore islands, have made Cape Kidnappers their mainland home.

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Cape Kidnappers Tourism Information


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