Cape Palliser, New Zealand – January 29, 2018
Cape Palliser is another of our favorite spots in New Zealand. Located on the southernmost point of the North Island, it has a rugged beauty. Add to that beauty a spectacular red and white lighthouse and herds of seals and one has the recipe for a beautiful outdoor experience. There are very few trees at this location. That adds to the stark look.
Nearing the small village of Pirinoa, one passes the little Burnside Presbyterian Church. It was a beautiful day for photographs. The church dates from 1875 and has a small cemetery off to one side. Other than flowers and trees, there is nothing else around.
The Cape Palliser Lighthouse is literally at the end of the road. For much of its length, the way hugs the beach, which allows storms can wreak havoc on the road. In places, only one vehicle may pass at a time. Not long after leaving the small fishing village of Ngawi, the sealed road ends. The remainder of the way is simply a dirt road.
At the end of the road is a parking lot and, thankfully, a toilet. Towering above the parking lot is a large, rugged hillside, at the top of which is the lighthouse. I wanted a photograph of the lighthouse with the ocean in the background. I was not able to get a decent picture in the past because of the lens I had. The issue is that one can only stand so far back from the lighthouse without risking a fall down the hillside.
Just like the first time Leslie and I visited, 261 stairs were separating the lighthouse from the parking lot. None of my traveling companions were interested in taking on that many stairs. Being not quite as bright as the others, I decided I must go up. The reward for my ascent was a spectacular view of the lighthouse and the ocean. As a bonus, I was there all by myself.
As I was ready to descend, I saw three people who had just begun their ascent. The stairs are very narrow and very steep. I decided to wait until they made it up to the lighthouse before I started down. It is hard to say which is more taxing; the journey up or the walk down. Regardless, I shan’t have to worry about ever making the trip again…been there, done that.
While I had been on my little adventure, my traveling companions explored the beach near the parking lot. At that point, the beach is challenging to travel across. That is due to the fist-sized stones covering the beach. It is hard to get stable, proper footing. Regardless, they did locate a lone bull seal napping on rocks at the water’s edge.
We got back in the car and began the return trip, stopping to look at various seal herds along the way. Just before the tiny village of Mangatoetoe, there is a small piece of land that juts out into the sea. The little peninsula forms a small, protected bay and some tidepools. Every time we have visited, we have always seen seals there. This day was no different.
By far, my favorite seal of the day was “Cruiser.” I am not sure if the youngster was a male or female, but it was undoubtedly mobile. That seal cruised all over the area. It seemed not a centimeter of the area was left unexplored. Something is mesmerizing about watching seals in their natural habitat. I know that is one of the things about New Zealand that I shall miss when we depart.
On our way to the lighthouse, as we drove through Ngawi, I noticed the Captain’s Table food trailer was not open. That meant if we wanted lunch, we would need to drive to Lake Ferry. As we entered Ngawi on our return, it was open for business. That was great news!
Adjacent to the Captain’s Table is a small camping area. We ordered our lunches and then waited at a picnic table. That did not last long. The sun was very intense, so we gathered our food and sat in the air-conditioned comfort of the car to eat.
After lunch, it was a leisurely drive back home.