Cape Palliser: Remote, Quiet, Charming And Unpredictable.
Many travellers from overseas consider the North Island of New Zealand not as fascinating as the South Island. When I planned my trip to New Zealand, I wanted to give both islands an equal chance – especially since it was my first visit. I was not disappointed.
My trip began in Auckland, and I continued to the Coromandel Peninsular, Hobbiton, further onwards to the Tongariro National Park, and finally reached Wellington. But before I got to the capital city, I had two days along the coast on Cape Palliser.
A ferryman and his hotel.
Lake Ferry is a sleepy little village that sits next to Lake Onoke. Following a drowning back in 1850, a ferry service was established across the lake. The ferryman needed accommodation and so he opened the Lake Ferry Hotel in 1851. This is where I would stay the next 48 hours.
Driving down to the hotel already gave me a good impression on what I would get the next two days: Peace and quite. Zero tourists, very few locals and no sounds other than the wind & ocean. Lake Ferry mostly consists of holiday homes and only a few permanent residents, therefore don’t expect a lot of action here.
Sheep, a scenic ocean road and a lighthouse.
Before reaching the coastal road, you drive through an amazing field landscape, with sheep as the only living thing in sight. European settlers brought sheep and cattle into this area in 1844. After about 20 minutes of driving, you’ll reach the winding road along the coast. It’s truly a ridiculously scenic drive with steep cliffs on one side and an endless ocean with black-sand beaches on the other.
I got the most amazing impressions and was overwhelmed with the atmosphere of the area. Therefore I was ready to drive down even further, all the way to the famous lighthouse I read about many months before.
Cape Palliser lighthouse – the southernmost point of the North Island – would test my fitness. To reach the candy-striped lighthouse, you must climb up the 254 (very steep) steps. Being up at the top, you really get the feeling of pure remoteness, combined with stunning views that extend all they way to the South Island on a clear day. But not only the the landscape was unreal; at one point the power of the wind was so strong, I was unable to stand up straight.
Cape Palliser lighthouse was the reason I came to this area in the first place, and it made every minute being there worthwhile. The most photogenic lighthouse in New Zealand was a true highlight!
When I saw a storm approaching, I quickly packed up my camera gear and headed back down the stairs. The Putangirua Pinnacles had to wait until the next morning, because just as I reached the Lake Ferry hotel, it started pouring cats and dogs…