Wellington to Castlepoint North Island 24th to 26th March 2008.
17 Apr 2008
Before leaving our campsite this morning we booked a place for another 3 nights over the next weekend. We have to return to Wellington to collect our passports from the immigration department on Friday, and on Saturday night we are meeting up with friends from Australia (George and Pam) for a meal.
Once on SH2 we drove up through Lower Hutt and Upper Hutt, two large city areas in themselves, on the outskirts of Wellington. We passed a lookout spot over two dams, one was low on water and the other was more like a puddle, a reminder of the drought situation over here. It was not long before we realised that what ever the South Island can do so can the North, when we reached our first twisty hilly road up and over Rimutaka (555m). Long before we reached it we could see the road snaking upwards as it wound around the hillside. Once at the top, as well as a lovely view, we saw the road snaking downwards.
Once over the hill we were in the Wairarapa region tucked away in the south east corner of the North Island and at the foot of the Tararua Mountains. As we drove northwards we noticed the traffic was heavier and the towns were appreciably larger than those on the South Island. We stopped at Masterton, Waiarapa’s largest town founded in 1845 by the Small Farms Association. We did some shopping and then called at the tourist office for information on the region.
On the road north we passed lots of roadside farm shops selling fresh fruit and vegetables so we stopped and stocked up on the local produce. Our plan today was to drive up to Waipukurau and then make our way back down to Wellington on the small roads taking us to the costal communities on the east coast. When we reached the town of Dannevirke we decided to stop for the night. We found the campsite that was part of a nature reserve and once we had parked the van we made a cup of coffee and sat outside on the nearby picnic table. It wasn’t long before we were joined by two friendly ducks and after giving them some bread they settled down by our door to guard our van. Meanwhile we left them and went for a walk around the park where we found a large aviary, a field of deer and a pond with lots of ducks. We walked out on to a viewing point over the pond and about a hundred ducks came from all over the park thinking they were going to be fed. When they realised there was no bread there were a few choice comments in duck language as they swam away.
In the morning we drove into the town to find the library as we needed some documents printing out, we joined the queue of the local kids to line up for a computer. Today is the last day of the school holidays so I expect they were making the best of it or getting homework done at the last minute. Once we had our documents we went for a walk around the town. Dannevirke was first settled in 1872 when the government introduced immigrants to the NZ bush as they opened up the area between Manawatu and Hawke’s Bay. Most of the immigrants arriving here were mainly from Scandinavian countries and the large windmill in the main street reflects this.
Once more on the road we reached Waipukurau and had a hunt for the road we wanted which would take us to the coast and Blackhead, a small seaside community consisting of a caravan park and summer homes. After a walk along the beach and a coffee we were back on the road again. We were now on small roads following the east coast southwards, sometimes we are driving close to the coast and at other times we are heading inwards over hills. The area is farming country and the grass was looking very brown and poor, bringing back memories of Australian pastures. Passing through Porangahau we came across the longest place name in the world. How would you like to live at…..
Taumatawhakatangihaangakoauauotamateaturipukakapikimaungahoronukupokaiwhenuakitanatahu? Loosely translated it means ‘The brow of a hill where Tamatea, the man with the big knees, who slid, climbed and swallowed mountains, known as land eater, played his flute to his brother’. We managed to get a photograph of the sign without the assistance of a wide angle lens.
After this we continued on our way via Wimbledon, (did not see the tennis club), to Herbertville where we booked into the campsite. Other campers looked at us with surprise and asked us why we were here, something that surprised us, till they explained that no tourists ever get here. Is that all, I thought it might be that we were smelling a bit. We settled down for the night and could here the sea bashing up on the shore so in the morning we will go and have a look at it.
Wednesday morning we drove down to the beach and had a walk along it before setting off on today’s drive. Our journey today took us inland to Pongaroa across some really lovely countryside along rivers, passed forests and through farming country. At Pongaroa we stopped for an ice-cream and a chance to stretch our legs before continuing on through Alfredton where we turned towards the coast again. Passing through a small township of Tina we came across a large house being prepared to be lifted on to a lorry in preparation to be moved. The large cranes were in position and the house was up on stanchions, gives a whole new meaning to moving house. Our final stop was at a small seaside town called Castlepoint, named by Captain Cook
We drove to the end of the road where we discovered a long stretch of beach with a sheltered lagoon. Pulled up on the beach were a number of large fishing boats which looked like they were chartered by fishermen. The bay is dominated by the lighthouse on one side and the 531 foot high Castle Rock on the other side. Castlepoint Lighthouse was one of the last manned lighthouses to be built in NZ and started operating in 1913. We walked across the boardwalk and climbed up the steps to the lighthouse where we got some stunning views of the town and the rock as the sun was beginning to set. Castle Rock dominates over Deliverance Cove and a tramping path takes you around to it, but we did not have enough daylight to do that, so we went to find the campsite. We were given a place right on the edge of the beach with some great views to the lighthouse. The lady in the office said we would be in an ideal place to see the sunrise at 7.30 am in the morning. Well I suppose that means we will have an early rise so best set the alarm. We are not used to early hours these days.