Cape Palliser

September 19, 2014 New Zealand 3 Comments 14,502 Views

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.

Fields decorate the landscape along the road down to the coast on Cape Palliser, New Zealand.
Fields decorate the landscape along the road down to the coast on Cape Palliser, New Zealand.
You won't find many people on Cape Palliser, instead, the fields are full of sheep along the road to the south coast of the North Island of New Zealand.
You won’t find many people on Cape Palliser; instead, the fields are full of sheep along the road to the southernmost area of the North Island.
The dramatic weather scene along the coastal road on Cape Palliser was a great photo opportunity.
The dramatic weather scene along the coastal road on Cape Palliser was a great photo opportunity.
As a solo traveller through New Zealand, you can really feel 'alone' from time to time. Cape Palliser was definitely one of the loneliest places I have to.
As a solo traveller through New Zealand, you can really feel ‘alone’ from time to time. Cape Palliser was definitely one of the loneliest places I have to.

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!

The ocean road along the coast of Cape Palliser is dramatically scenic. One of the most impressive drives during my trip through New Zealand.
The ocean road along the coast of Cape Palliser is dramatically scenic. It was one of the most impressive drives during my trip through New Zealand.
Cape Palliser Lighthouse; the southernmost point of the North Island and one of the most remote places in New Zealand.
Cape Palliser Lighthouse; the southernmost point of the North Island – it’s in fact considerably further south than Nelson or Blenheim in the South Island – and one of the most remote places in New Zealand.
The view from Cape Palliser lighthouse on the North Island of New Zealand.
It’s hard to convey the feeling I had up at Cape Palliser lighthouse. Happy and content would describe it best … and I’m sure that the atmosphere was a great factor for this.
While driving along Cape Palliser road, you will come across wonderful creatures along the rocks just off the side of the road.
While driving along Cape Palliser road, you will come across wonderful creatures along the rocks just off the side of the road.
Just before you reach the Cape Palliser lighthouse you must keep your eyes open for the nearby seal colony.
On your way to or from the Cape Palliser lighthouse, you must keep your eyes open for the nearby seal colony.
Once you're at the top of Cape Palliser lighthouse, it's easy to see why this area of ocean was known for seafaring disasters. This storm came quicker than I had hoped for...
It’s easy to see why this area of ocean was known for seafaring disasters. This storm came quicker than I had hoped for and the ocean turned into a ravaging element.

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…

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“Cape Palliser: Remote, Quiet, Charming And Unpredictable.”

  1. Hello, what a lovely post this is. I also heard over and over again that the South Island is so worth the trip … that is why I went to the North Island.
    I had a pretty good time and loved it.

  2. Thanks Dorothée!
    Yeah I know. I mean, yes, the South Island is amazing, but I guess it just depends on what you’re looking for. Landscape wise, the South Island has more to offer in total, but I wouldn’t want to say which Island to visit and which not…
    Best, Nisa

  3. hi Nisa, just found your blog, totally luv your style of writing & photography!
    I’ve already been around both islands in ’98 but I’m going back & this time I’m taking my 4 young foster girls (7-12yrs). We’ve done lots of short 2-3 wk trips to bali, phuket and around Australia (where we live) but this time we plan to back pack around the nth island in feb 15 using the naked bus for on/off transport between towns. I’m using this trip to prepare the girls for further backpacking through south east asia for longer periods of time. We’re all into photography too so buying the girls new cameras for xmas & hope to come back with some gorgeous shots to share…can’t wait! Thanks again for your amazing blog and all you share! Lisa & girls :)

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