Castlepoint, New Zealand – September 2, 2017
The small town of Castlepoint is a little more than a two-hour drive from Lower Hutt. The journey is not bad; although, Leslie would disagree because of Rimutaka Pass. She really dislikes that pass.
Castlepoint lies along the east coast of the north island. If one is looking for wild nightlife, this is probably not the place to visit. There is one coffee house/grocery, the Castlepoint Store (they are called dairies here) and one hotel/restaurant, the Castlepoint Hotel and Guesthouse. It is also known as the Whakataki Hotel. On our way into town, we stopped at the hotel for a coffee.
September is the beginning of spring in New Zealand, so the weather can be dicey. We indeed found that to be true. It was cold and rainy for much of our visit. Regardless, we had a fun, relaxing weekend. It seemed more like a fall afternoon than a spring day.
We whiled away some of our time by quietly sitting in the bach, reading, or doing art projects. When we looked up, we were looking out of a large picture window, right at the lighthouse.
Except for some raindrops periodically hitting the bach, it was tranquil. It was also rather chilly inside. There were some space heaters available, but we did not turn them on too high. We would rather be comfortably cold than excruciatingly hot.
Part of what made the environment so relaxing was the water. I mean both the ocean and the rain. I have never been able to put my finger on the reason why, but something is soothing about the sound of water to the human spirit. It seems to “soothe the savage beast.” I could sit, watch, and listen to the ocean and the rain for hours. The smell of the sea and the rain added to the experience and the overall relaxation. I love Colorado, but I have come to love the islands of New Zealand too.
On our first afternoon, we walked along the beach in front of our bach. There was a lot of activity because there was a fishing tournament in full swing. We watched one man for a while as he set his bait, cast, and then reeled the line back to shore. He said he had caught a couple, but he did not think they were anything to write home about.
The fisherman told us the tournament was drawing to a close. He said there would be a large gathering at the Wairarapa Sports Fishing Club to celebrate the winners and have a fish-fry. He suggested we stop by and partake. We opted not to since we did not feel comfortable. Besides, we had our heart set on dinner at the hotel.
The ocean swells were reasonably strong. At times, the fishing boats out disappeared from view as they bobbed up and down. Leslie and I were both glad we were on terra firma.
Since the fishing tournament was ending, people were beginning to bring their boats to shore. It is always fun to watch people launch and recover boats. They drive out onto the beach with a tractor, point the trailer into the surf, and either launch or recover. I assume the small bay is too unprotected to have an actual marina. Also, once a marina is in place, then it requires time and energy to operate and maintain. So, I am sure the locals think the tractor and trailer method is much preferred.
Because of the weather, we opted to not climb to the lighthouse that first afternoon. For dinner that evening, we went back to the Castlepoint Hotel. The dining area was a combination of a bar, diner, and pool hall. There was a more formal dining room to the left as one entered, but everyone seemed to opt for the other. I am sure a big reason why was the roaring fire in the woodstove. We had a glass of wine and a good ol’ stick-to-your-ribs dinner.
Back at the bach, I sat up my tripod to try to get some photos of the lighthouse in action. It was a cloudy, misty, and cold evening. I think that made for a good picture.
The next morning, we drove a little farther north along the coast. In about 15-minutes we came to the Mataikona Rocks. One of the Kiwis in the hotel the night before had recommended we visit. They were an unusual formation. We arrived as the tide was coming in. That limited how much of the structure we could see. The compositions are layers of sandstone that have been upthrust when tectonic plates collided.
It was still a mostly cloudy day. However, now and then, the sun would poke through. That made for some excellent photographs.
On the way to the Mataikona Rocks, we drove past a beautifully green paddock. It was part of a sheep ranch. One could see dozens of sheep and lambs. The shades of green in this country are hard to explain adequately. They are just so brilliant.
Near the Mataikona Rocks was a little-used trail along the beach. Along the path was a sign regarding Paua taking and the relevant regulations. I found that very interesting.
After some additional exploring and beach-combing, we drove back to the bach. Before departing Lower Hutt, we packed some groceries…and wine. That evening we ended up barbequing some beautiful steaks. I am sure part of the reason they tasted so good was the picturesque beauty all around us. The patio of the bach had a small overhang. I moved the barbeque under that for protection from the weather.
The following morning, our last day there, I woke up early. I checked outside and saw that the sky was relatively clear. I had never taken photographs of the stars. I decided to try it. I can tell I will need a lot more practice to get a perfect shot. That said, I did end up with one shot that I liked. Without very much light pollution at Castlepoint, it is incredible all of the stars one can see.
Many of our friends from work have been to Castlepoint. For those that have not been there, I highly recommend the trip. It was so lovely to relax and not be running from one tourist site to the next. We felt very relaxed when we returned home.