Lighthouse at Cape Palliser, Wairarapa © Grafissimo

Cape Palliser: the wild, windblown promontory that is the southernmost tip of the North Island


View the map

TAP FOR MORE INFO:

This is a freaky part of the world, a wild, windblown promontory that is the southernmost tip of the North Island.

For those who feel the need to mark such things, plonk your feet beneath the lighthouse and tick that perimeter box. You’re further south than Nelson or Blenheim, which are in the South Island. Huh?

Even the road there should be on your bucket list, a shoreline-hugging, sinewy stretch of craziness that will test your mettle on the metal, for sure.
You’ll slither past Ngawi, a small settlement whose existence is heavily subsidised by crayfishing — check all those cars, tractors and bulldozers idling optimistically in the carpark, or shunting craft into the sea, off to play ‘catch’.

The point — and it’s a high one — of the trip is the Cape Palliser lighthouse, constructed in 1897, once fuelled by oil. Its 20-secondly blink is electrically derived these days, the people who personned it long dispersed. It’s now managed from a control room in Wellington (which, you could argue, applies to the rest of the New Zealand population as well!). Feel free to climb the 250 steps up to its base to check it out, though, and think on the pivotal role it plays in ship guiding. You’ll keep looking across the water to the glorious South Island, the snow-capped Alps a still and present contrast to that choppy chunk of water between. It’s rough, wild and exhilarating here.

The other unpredictable and impressive natural attraction here are the seals, this being their largest breeding area in the entire country. They have colonised this part of this crazy coast, and provide a hearty — and noisy — soundtrack to your journey. Don’t get between them and the sea, though: like most of us, they like to have an escape route where possible!


Be the first to comment on this page. You cannot post comments until you have logged in. Please log in or register if you don't have an account.

More stories like this

Find out more

Things to do

Castlepoint: a seaside adventure

Most of New Zealand’s special coastal spots are marked by lighthouses. Castlepoint is no exception. Named because the rock formation on the skyline above resembles — surprise, surprise — a castle when viewed from sea, it’s one of the wilder stretches of the North Island coast. Read the story . . . 

Find out more

Things to do

Farewell Spit: the longest natural sandbar in the world

Experience the striking landforms of Wharakiki Beach before travelling out along the longest natural sandbar in the world and sanctuary to over 90 bird species, including bar-tailed godwits, knots, curlews, whimbrels and turnstones. Read the story . . . 

Find out more

Things to do

The Marlborough Wine & Food Festival: sample the local sauvignon blanc on its home turf

Fail to sample the local sauvignon blanc on its home turf and miss out on sipping the exuberant and intense varietal in the sacred space that first introduced New Zealand wine to the world. Read the story . . . 

Find out more

Things to do

Larnach Castle: a vision of past and present

If you missed Larnach Castle on your trip out to wing it with the albatrosses, you must have been on Facebook. It stands proud and bold on the highest point of the entire Otago Peninsula. Read the story . . . 

Wairarapa Region Where to stay in

4.3 /5
From $125
4.3 /5
Best Price Around
Oak Estate Motor Lodge & Conference Centre

Oak Estate Motor Lodge, located in historic Greytown, is set on park-like grounds among beautiful oak trees. Oak Estate is the perfect place to stay . . . More . . . 

From $125

Book now

Book now

4.7 /5
From $40
4.7 /5
Martinborough TOP 10 Holiday Park

Set amongst vineyards with views to the Tararua Ranges and Martinborough hills, Martinborough TOP 10 Holiday Park is the perfect spot to relax. . . . More . . . 

From $40

Book now

Book now

4.5 /5
From $89
4.5 /5
Cornwall Park Motel

Masterton's peaceful motel. A secluded, tranquil, grassed complex of 10 clean, comfortable, well-presented ground-floor units. Enjoy the quiet of the countryside but with the convenience . . . More . . . 

From $89

Book now

Book now

4.1 /5
4.1 /5
Best Price Around
Copthorne Hotel & Resort Solway Park Wairarapa

Set in 24 acres of landscaped parklands, native bush and fragrant gardens. Located on the outskirts of Masterton, Wairarapa’s largest town, Copthorne Hotel & Resort . . . More . . . 

Book now

Book now