Having visited the Northern-most area of New Zealand (Cape Reinga), the East Cape for the easternmost, I figured to finish up my North Island experience with the southernmost spot on this part of New Zealand. An area called Cape Palliser.
It’s actually a good drive from Wellington, as there is no quick way along the coast – you have to go quite a bit north to find the pass through the mountain range that divides the southern part of the north island in half. The lake due north of Cape Palliser on the map? I was driving a good 15-20km north of that on my way out from Wellington. So probably around 150km worth of driving, give or take. There are towns along the way, some of which I stopped in at (Upper Hutt being the most notable, it has a nice library for internet access), but I made it to the Cape by mid-afternoon. The drive once you get back to the coast is part of the experience. It’s another one of those windy, windswept, coastal drives.
Once you get close to Cape Palliser, you can see the iconic lighthouse rising well above the ocean.
The climb to the top is a steep 250 step climb – a good workout after driving for quite a long time! And the views from the top are worth the effort.
Also nearby, there is another great lookout spot, where you get to listen to very strange sounds.
The strange sounds come from the local seal colony, and they make a LOT of noise. It kind of reminded me of a horror movie though, the sounds. You couldn’t SEE most of the seals making the noises, but you could sure hear them…and it echoed across the rocks.
And then it was just a short drive back along the coast towards where I was camping that night.
Or that was the original idea. There is a very nice DOC camping area near Cape Palliser. Unfortunately, the spot a well known and easily accessible one, and I guess popular during the ‘silly season’, a term Kiwis give to the summer holiday season when all the kids are out of school and families take holidays (Dec 20-mid/late January usually). When I arrived around 530pm, the place was jam packed with cars, campers and tents. And even worse, mewling, noisy, obnoxious children. By the car loads. Horrified at the prospect of camping anywhere near them, I drove on another hour until I happened randomly by a different campsite, this time at the north end of a lake. It was nearly deserted, except for some travelling gypsies. Nope, not kidding. I had an enjoyable and quiet night.