Gina and I have visited Cape Palliser and Lake Ferry, a number of times. It takes us just over 2 hours to get there from Woodville. We have visited in all kinds of weather and each time there is a different story, to tell. Like, standing on the rocks in the pouring rain, watching and listening to thundering of the waves, as they crash against the rocks. (Trying to take photos and keep the cameras dry, was a bit of a challenge that day).
The Wairarapa coast has a lot to offer, with it’s stunning scenery, wildlife, amazing sunsets & sunrises, and history.
Cape Palliser is home to largest NZ fur seal colony, in the North Island and the Lighthouse, which has sat on the cliffs, since 1897. On the way to Cape Palliser stop in and visit the local fishing village of Ngawi, with its colourful tractors, which are used to haul the fishing boats in and out of the ocean. Lake Ferry is situated on the shores of Lake Onoke and another place not to be missed.
If you have a limited amount of time or just don’t want to drive and feel like taking a tour with a difference, then I highly recommend, To the coast with the post, tour with Gordon, the local RD2 postie. You get to ride along with Gordon on his daily mail run, which covers a distance of 220kms.
Gina and I set off to see Waihi Falls in the winter after there had been a few days of heavy rain. We headed to Dannevirke and then turned right into Weber Road. Click here for directions.
Some of the road is quite winding and narrow in places and the last few kilometres are gravel. Along the way we had to stop and let a mob of sheep go by. Couldn’t resist taking a photo of them.
When we arrived at the falls, we found ample car parking, as well as a picnic area. Due to the rain the pathway down to the falls was slippery underfoot in places. When we arrived at the bottom and made our way to the water’s edge of the grassed area. I would say up to 2 metres back from there was really wet, due to the mist created by the volume of water, tumbling down over the falls.
It was not safe to be too near the edge of the grassed area because the water made it very soggy.
Waihi Falls are a sight to see though, the roar of the water tumbling over the falls and the misty water rising as it hits the river below.
We visited the Falls again on 26/5/17, the idea was to grab the sunset but the clouds had other ideas. When one door closes another opens and the Falls looked stunning in BW.
Gina and I visited Riversdale as well as CastlePoint a couple of weeks ago (15/3/17) and seeing as all three places are on the same coastline and not that far from each other, I thought I would add Riversdale to this existing post.
Riversdale has a magic all of its own, as well as a long sandy beach to walk on, the coastal settlement, felt warm and inviting. A great place to stay if you want to get away from it all, for a few days.
The rocky outcrops at one end of the beach add character, besides its always fun to walk on the rocks and explore the weathered formations. while watching the waves crash against them. We also found many species of birds, nesting and living in the dunes.
Gina and I decided to head down to Mataikona Rocks, in the Wairarapa and seeing as Castle Point is only a 15 minute drive away, we though we would visit there again, too.
We left Woodville at 8.30am and stopped in at the Finest Batch Bakery in Pahiatua for, yes you guessed it, a coffee and something to eat. So all up, it took us nearly 2 hours to reach Castle Point, (we decided we would stop there first).
Castle Point, Lovely place but it can be dangerous too, if you don’t have your eyes open. Rogue waves often visit and can take you off the reef in seconds. Gina and I last visited just over a year ago, on September 10th 2014.
We stood on top of the reef and walked up to the lighthouse but not on Wednesday, while the sea was a lot calmer than in 2014 some of the wind gusts were very strong and nearly knocked us, off our feet. Great place to visit though, there are walks you can do, Fur Seals can be seen there occasionally, as well as different bird species, plus the scenery is stunning.
After spending about an hour at Castle Point we headed off to Mataikona Rocks. The road is signed posted so you can’t miss it, (on your right) just as you are leaving Castle Point. By the time we reached Mataikona, the wind had worsened and some of the gusts were very strong.
The rocks can only been seen and walked on at low tide.The rock formations are the result of the constant pounding and compression from the ocean and the movement and and colliding of tectonic plates. They are quite a sight to see, along with the rock pools and Fur Seals.
Unfortunately, the wind made it hard to stay upright some of the time but we both like a challenge and the rocks are something you don’t see everyday.
We stayed at Mataikona for a while, taking photos, exploring the rock pools and watching the waves crash upon the rocks. On the way back, we parked on the roadside, overlooking Castle Point and the views were stunning. All in all another great day out.
Early on Tuesday morning I drove down to Featherston for a different kind of day trip. When I reached Featherston I stopped in to the Everest Café for a coffee and a bite to eat and to wait for Gordon.
Gordon is the local RD2 rural mailman and as well as delivering the mail he also offers a unique tour called: “To the coast with the Post” where you get to ride along with him on his daily 220km mail run all the way to Southern most point of the North Island.
Although, I am not a stranger to the Wairarapa, Gordon showed me places I had never visited before and filled me in, on some of the local history.
I have often driven past Burnside Church but on Tuesday I got to go inside and have a look around this beautiful old church, which was built in the 1800’s. We also stopped at the Pirinoa Country Store, which was also established in the 1800’s. The store is the hub of the Pirinoa community, its a one stop shop for everything from petrol to groceries.
I also got to see the flood gates, some back country road scenery, old buildings and a memorial to 12 crew from the ship wrecked Zuleiki in 1897.
We had lunch at Cape Palliser and hung out with the seals for a while, then headed back to Featherston.
I thoroughly enjoyed my trip and I would like to thank Gordon for his hospitality and laughs along the way.
The photo opportunities are endless, there is so much to see, it is also a great trip to do if you don’t have a lot of time but want to see what the Wairarapa has to offer. Lunch and snacks are also provided.
If you would like to find out more or book the “To the coast with the Post” tour. Visit Gordon’s page on Facebook or click on the tour link in the second paragraph. Also visit “To the Coast with the Post” on Tripadvisor to read some of the great reviews, this tour has been given.
The sand, water, wind, sunlight & clouds are true alchmists of nature. They always put on a good show, never the same, always changing.
Daylight saving makes it easier to go and visit places to watch and photograph the sunset and yes, in some cases by the time we get home, its nearly midnight. Sometimes, you don’t have to travel too far, local is good but sometimes it pays to travel further a field.
If we are heading out the time may vary depending on where we are planning to go. Its no different than going on a day trip. Sometimes we take our food with us, depending on where we are going, other times we stop off somewhere and grab a bite to eat. The gear apart from my camera, I always take with me, year round is listed in Safety Tips for Your Trip.
I love the beach as does Gina, the crashing waves, the open spaces, the sand beneath your feet. I find being out and travelling around, keeps my cup full, just being on the road and going somewhere, makes me smile.
New Zealand is a beautiful country with amazing landscapes and beaches just waiting to be explored, by tourists and locals alike. Unfortunately, people die and are injured every year in New Zealand, while exploring, having a fun holiday or day out. Poor judgement, lack of knowledge & complacency, more often that not, play a part in these deaths & injuries.
The weather & conditions in NZ are very changeable even in the summer. So it pays to be prepared for the worst, as the saying goes “Shit Happens” when you least expect it, a day trip can turn into an overnight trip, very easily.
So here are a few safety tips and advice I personally follow and carry, whenever I go out anywhere. Otherwise, I have similar gear that permanently lives in my vehicle, along with a few extra bits and pieces.
Tell someone where you are going, what time you are leaving your home/accommodation and what time you hope to arrive back at home/accommodation. Say you will text or call, when you get back.
Check the weather forecast/conditions. I use and find AccuWeather quite reliable. No weather forecast is 100%. Accu, gives you a lot of information, including cloud cover percentages, wind chill & rain information etc. If I am heading towards the coast I also check Surf-forcast.com for the latest tidal information, such as high/low tide times, wave height, energy & wind. Lastly, I also take a look at the Department of Conservation, for information on track conditions, permits, wildlife etc.
Know where you are going, write down directions, take a map, I don’t rely on my cell phone because coverage can be sketchy in places. Its is also very easy to lose, drop/break your phone.
Dress for the conditions: take extra clothing & a first aid kit, including any medications you may need.
Water & food, make sure you have enough, always take extra.
Here is a quick run down of what I have in my pack, all year around.
First aid kit, I make my own, saves money and I get what I want in my kit including any medication. Always have your first aid kit, accessible, don’t have it buried at the bottom of your pack or bag. I use a zip lock sandwich bag, which is also waterproof to keep it in.
Clothing: pair of socks, rain poncho/rain jacket, hat, gloves, scarf & spare top.
Emergency: sleeping bag & blanket (mylar or the like) tarpaulin (shelter) cordage, 2 x black plastic bags, (bags can be used for insulation. filled with leaves for example), torch (with spare batteries), fire kit, 1 litre water bottle, with cook mug, a knife/multi tool & compass. Sleeping on the bare ground for the night, isn’t a good idea, as the earth can sap a lot of your body heat, you need to have some form of insulation or be off the ground.
Food: coffee, soup, energy bars, boil in the bag meal, can be eaten hot or cold.
Personal hygiene kit: Baby wipes, hand sanitizer, toilet roll/tissues/handee towel, sunblock & insect repellent. (all are put in to small containers) except for sunblock and repellent.
Common sense plays a big part in what anyone chooses to do, or not do. People often see things differently, what is important to one, may not be to another.
Gina and I decided it was time to go to the beach again so we decided to head out to Akitio and checkout the beach and surrounding area.
So on a chilly Wednesday morning in May (2015) we hopped in the car and believe it or not, we were on the road by 9am. We headed to Dannevike and stopped in at Subway for a coffee and a bite to eat.
We then headed down to Millar Street (There is a sign for Akitio, Herberville, Pongaroa) and continued on Weber Road. We then turned left into River Road and followed the road across the bridge that goes over the Akitio river and on to the coast road. Then along to the Akitio Esplanade, where we parked the car. There are quite a few houses along the esplanade, many are holiday homes but there are a few people who live there permanently. There is also a shop and public facilities. It took us approximately 1 hour and 45 minutes to get there from Woodville.
It was a bit brisk and overcast when we got out of the car, so out came the scarfs, woolly hats and gloves. We made our way onto the beach and what caught my eye were the posts firmly planted in the sand. They looked like sentries watching over the beach. Which of course we had to take photos of and the seagull added a nice touch, perched on top, of its lofty lookout.
The tide was out so we walked along the beach, the reef has some amazing rock formations and the sea water left behind, created some interesting looking rock pools. We then headed back up to where the Akitio river meets the sea, passing quite a bit of driftwood along the way. We were also surprised by how many Kingfishers were flying around. It’s the most we have seen in a very long time.
The following week, we visited a very different Akitio beach, a depression had gone through the night before, when we arrived the Akitio river seemed to have doubled in size as we drove over the bridge. There was no beach, the waves tossed around the driftwood as if it were paper mache. In places the waves were coming up over the grass verge. So with the rain coming down we parked the car, donned on our wet gear, grabbed the cameras and off we went.
As we stood on top of the grassed area where normally the beach would be, all we could see were waves, its was an amazing sight to see the “power of the ocean” easy to get taken by a wave, if you don’t have your wits about you.
By the afternoon the sea had calmed a bit, the beach was visible but we still couldn’t walk on it because every so often a wave would come right in.
Although, with the weather changing we saw, Shags, Gulls a Rook, Kingfishers and quite a few Fantails, darting from one piece of driftwood to another.
Even though Gina and I live in the Tararua District we had never been out to Pongaroa, so we thought we would go and do the bush walks and have a look around.
So on 21st May 2014, we decided to head out to Pongaroa , we filled up the car in Woodville before we left, as it is a long walk back, if you run out of gas.
I see at the moment there is no petrol available in Pongaroa, so fill up before you head out.
It took us just over an hour to get there, click on the Pongaroa link above for directions and more information about the area.
When we arrived we had a quick look around the town, then headed to Urupa Street, where the bush walks begin.
There are two walks you can do and we did both of them. The yellow track to the Pongaroa lookout and cemetery takes about 10-15 minutes and is a pretty easy walk through the bush and out on to and up the hillside. On reaching the top we could see the cemetery and township below.
We took a few photos and then headed back down. We then found the beginning of the red track, this is a longer walk takes about 20-30 minutes, the first 5 minutes are an easy walk to the picnic table in the bush. The rest of the walk was up hill through the bush, we could see it hadn’t been walked in a while, the pathway in places was a bit overgrown but nothing we couldn’t handle.
When we arrived at the top the views were worth the walk. probably would have looked better on a summer’s day but its good to get out and about, anytime of the year.
We had a wander around the hillside for a while then made our way back down, as it was time for a coffee.
Gina and I stopped in at the local hotel for a coffee and something to eat. If you are into local history, the hotel is the place to go, there are old photos and news clippings decorating the walls. On the main back wall there’s a pictorial history of the area. Its has been very well done and there’s a lot of interesting photos and information about the area.
We could have stayed there for the rest of the afternoon but as always, we had to head for home. So we said our goodbyes and left the hotel.
Gina and I enjoy going to the beach anytime of year, you see things in winter that you don’t see in summer and vice versa. We visited Hokio Beach in July 2014, it was fine but quite cold and windy. Good day for thermals and a woolly hat.
Hokio Beach is situated just outside of the Levin township. Upon arriving there, I saw two shags perched in a tree, I quickly grabbed my cameras and headed off, leaving Gina to sort the car and grab her gear.
After I photographed the shags we made our way down to the beach, the sand was being blown around by the wind and it created a haze effect. The wind eventually died down a bit, as we walked along the beach.
At one stage there was hardly any clouds covering the sun and just for a short time, the winter sunlight turned the ocean a silver colour.
While the wind made interesting patterns around the shells lying on the beach, some of the shells looked like they were sitting on little stalks made of sand.
Gina and I saw quite a few different bird species, while we were there on the beach and around the waterways, Shags, Ducks, Pukeko, Gulls, Oystercatchers and Swallows were there in good numbers.
After we spent a couple or so hours walking along Hokio Beach, we decided to head for home. On the way back into Levin we stopped to look at the snow-covered ranges in the distance and of course to take photos.
I was on the net looking for places Gina & I could visit down and around, the Wairarapa Region and I came across Patuna Farm Adventures in Martinborough.
Gina and I particularly liked the sound of the chasm walk so decided we would go. I rang the Farm and told them we would like to come down and do the chasm walk.
As it was in April I thought I had better check to see if it was still open. As they close the chasm from April to October due to the rising water levels.
We set off just after 8am in the morning , It took us a couple of hours to get there from Woodville, the directions are pretty straightforward and can be found on their site along with other information. Just click on the link above.
There is a $15 charge for adults & $10 for children, be prepared to get wet, so take along a change of clothes and something to eat and drink.
When we arrived we were greeted by the owner, we then followed him in the car to the starting point of the chasm walk. We parked the car and were given directions he also asked us to let him know when we had finished the walk. As there is no mob coverage out there.
Then we set off, we walked through a pine forest, through the river and up and over a bank and across farmland and down through some bush and into the river again and chasm. It was a lovely day and we had great views of the surrounding countryside. We stopped and had lunch before we entered the chasm.
The limestone chasm is amazing, it makes you feel very small as you walk through it. You do however have to watch where you walk as some of the smaller stones can be slippery and in some places the water is deeper than in other parts. Good footwear is a must. Gina and I spent a couple of hours walking and looking through the chasm, after which we walked back out the same way we came in. Another hidden gem that a lot of people don’t know about.
We stopped off at the farm, on our way out, then headed for home.
Day Trips for the uninspired. Things to see and do in and around the Manawatu, Tararua, Wairarapa, Hawke's Bay & Wellington Regions of New Zealand