Seals, spectacular walks, and the spiffiest lighthouse in the country - you'll find them all at Cape Palliser. It's just an hour's drive from Martinborough, with unforgettable seaviews along the way.
A grand old lady of a lighthouse
The cast iron Cape Palliser lighthouse has stood on the cliffs here since 1897 - and she's still shining strong. Climb the 253 steps to see her up close. The view at the top is a beaut - and you'll probably get a refreshing breeze with your summit drink or snack. Spare a thought for the early lighthousekeepers who had to haul oil and kerosene cans up a dirt track before the steps went in.
Seals - stinky but irresistible
Cape Palliser is home to the North Island's largest fur seal colony. Take time to watch them swimming and lolling on the rocks. If you're here November to January you're likely to spot some pups. Oh, and something else that's stinky and irresistible in the Wairarapa is our local award-winning cheese. Pick some up from Ingredient deli in Martinborough and give the seals a run for their money!
Rich Maori heritage
This part of New Zealand has a rich history of early Maori occupation. Archaeologists believe Maori settled here in the 1300s. Look out for 'Kupe's Sail' - the huge triangular slab of sandstone above the Mangatoetoe Stream just before the lighthouse. It's said that the explorer Kupe camped near here as he explored the coast. The rock looks like the sail of a Polynesian canoe.
Other Cape Palliser highlights
- Aorangi Forest Park - rugged tramping and camping, and even a cottage to rent!
- Ngawi - a fishing village with raw coastal charm
- Don't want to drive? Take a Hammonds Cape Palliser Tour
- Walk around the eery Putangirua Pinnacles
- Hitch a ride with the charming local postie - To the Coast with the Post!
- Kawakawa Station walk - a spectacular three-day trek in comfort
- Check out the fishing spots around the Wairarapa coast
- Go birdwatching at nearby Onoke Spit
- Lake Ferry Hotel - country hospitality and fab fish & chips