Spirits Bay (Piwhane)

The aptly named Spirits Bay, or Piwhane, is located at the most northern tip of New Zealand’s North Island. The isolated bay is 12 kilometers long and was named one of the top campers’ spots in New Zealand.

Spirits Bay
Te Karaka Bay (left) and the long coastline of Spirits Bay (right), viewed from its eastern end.
Credit: williamsphotography.co.nz

Cultural Significance

From Wikipedia: The bay is considered a sacred place in Māori culture as according to local legend, it is the location where spirits of the dead gather to depart from this world to travel to their ancestral home (or afterlife) from a large old pōhutukawa tree above the bay. The bay has two Māori names, Piwhane and Kapowairua, the latter meaning to “catch the spirit”, derived from a Māori language saying that translates into English as: “I can shelter from the wind. But I cannot shelter from the longing for my daughter. I shall venture as far as Hokianga, and beyond. Your task (should I die) shall be to grasp my spirit.” The words were spoken by Tōhē, a chief of the Ngāti Kahu people, who is considered one of Muriwhenua’s most important ancestors. Tōhē made his way south, naming more than one hundred places along the western coast, until dying at Whāngaiariki near Maunganui Bluff.

Reports of apparitions

Spirits Bay is claimed to be one of the most haunted locations in New Zealand. According to legend, if visiting the bay at night you can observe multiple individual spirits travelling down the beach before disappearing at a single spot. The claims are these spirits ignore any attempts to interact or delay them, and are solely focused on their destination. These are believed to be souls departing the island as mentioned in the Māori legend. In the nearby Tom Bowling Bay there is a stream, the Kapo-Wairua., name literally meaning “Snatching Souls.” This is said to be a reference to demons who try to snatch at the spirits passing that way.

Have you visited Spirits Bay and witnessed any paranormal activity? We’d love to hear your stories in the comments below!



  1. Jazz

    Hi there, they is going to seem really weird as probably unbelievable. I am a Kiwi living in London currently. I grew up in Auckland before moving to the UK. I had a dream where I was standing on a hill by the coast in New Zealand and a spirit of a women in a long white flowing dress walked over to me, long black hair covering her face, she was also giant in the sense she that she dwarfed me. She picked me up and cradled me in her arms like you would a baby and said “spread knowledge of the spirits”. It was at that point I woke up. I remember the image in my head of this hill and encounter and so i googled spirits of New Zealand and this image of this place pooped up which matches what i can remember of the location in my dream. Does this mean something? Also I have had dreams involving spirits before where I have woken up terrified and sweating, but after waking from this dream I felt really calm and relaxed. This is probably nothing and just a dream, but I would be interested in visiting this spot.

    1. Aanaheraa

      There is definitely a message behind your dreams. You might be astral travelling, say your prayers. Lead with love and light. Stay in the light

  2. Anonymous

    On my way 24th birthday I went on a road trip to the cape , on my way back down the island I was drawn here , with no true intention on staying I continued on , a few miles down the road a tree had blocked the road so I turned back , as the night went on I experienced the supernatural! I couldn’t explain what I was seeing , orb like shadows came down the hill in single patterns ,one after another for what it seemed like for hours , I knew nothing normal could move like that and silently , they became closer , entering the water in front of me and disappeared, you could hear them entering the water the trickle sound and move on as though they swam off , the water glowed behind them , It felt like i was surrounded! I was frozen! Didn’t want to make a single sound or disturb them /I ended up leaving as I became terrified! I still feel and see it like it was yesterday! Was the most amazing experience but also unbelievably frightening as I couldn’t process what I was experiencing, It’s something I will never forget . The energy that night was crazy .

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