Monday, April 25, 2011

Coastal Wairarapa

Castlepoint Lighthouse seen from beach

The Wairarapa is a region to the east of the Rimutaka and Tararua mountains. Normally when we head out that way, we go into the Tararuas for some great tramping. But over Easter weekend we decided to keep heading east, all the way to the Pacific coast!

We went for a couple of walks out at Castlepoint, which is about an hour east of the town of Masterton. The beach is popular in summer, but there were quite a few people around enjoying the long weekend and an unusually warm day. There were even a few surfers in the water, later replaced by a few kayakers.

The walk up to the lighthouse is pretty trivial. It's a concrete path, and then some steps. But the rocky area surrounding the lighthouse is fun to explore. The rocky cliffs tower over the pounding surf, making for a dramatic view.

The other main walk in the area takes you up above Deliverance Cove, a sheltered beach where the peace was disturbed by some kids on dirt bikes and ATVs. That was unfortunate, because apart from the noise it's a lovely spot.

Deliverance Cove

The walk follows a ride behind the cove, then climbs a steep hill to the edge of the cliff overlooking the ocean. It towers above the lighthouse and is narrow enough to worry anyone with vertigo.
View from the ridge to the lighthouse

We were planning to do another walk the next day, called the Honeycomb Rock walk. It's a four hour return walk, which reveals some unusual rock erosion (hence the name) and a shipwreck. But we decided to be leisurely about our long weekend and instead headed to Martinborough for a day of wine tasting. Hey, even hikers enjoy an indulgent day now and then!

Sunday we headed back towards the coast, this time right around the southeast corner of the South Island to a spot called White Rock. We went for a trail ride with some local farmers, which was a real treat. My first ride in around 7 years, and G's first ride in about 25 years!

After that we headed down to the coast itself, and checked out the eponymous White Rock. The sand is black, which makes the limestone boulder seem all the more out of place. It's a deserted and rugged coastal area, at the end of a gravel road. In New Zealand, if you're willing to take a drive an hour or two out of your way you are almost always rewarded with a beautiful coastal scene all to yourselves. (One other car did show up at White Rock as we left, but it was Easter weekend after all!)

White Rock

So we didn't exactly go for "hard adventure" over our little break, but we did see some remote corners of New Zealand that were definitely worth a peek. And we did come home with a couple of very nice bottles of Martinborough wine!