[Carnet de Voyage] An out-of-time journey to Cape Palliser

At the southern point of Te Ika-a-Māui (North Island), there is a mysterious place known for its lighthouse and its seals’ colony. Cape Palliser is also a haven of nature and peace.

On this second day of the year, in the middle of a shabby Summer, two friends decided to escape on an adventure, an epic one.
After two hours driving from Wellington city, crossing the Rimutaka ranges that separate the majestic Hutt Valley and the flat Wairarapa, we reached the south coast near Aorangi forest and farther south, the famous Cape Palliser, our destination.
Fun fact, the southern tip of the North Island is further south than Blenheim in the South Island!

Cape Palliser

The road was enjoyable, relaxing and away from daily life, nothing was going to spoil this afternoon even not the few tourists from around the world who had the same idea than us.

Arrived at Cape Palliser, it was not crowdy and still perfectly delightful to appreciate this amazing spot.  However, to admire the view we had to climb a few hundreds of steps that lead to the red and white lighthouse that overhang Cook Strait. The seascape had something a bit apocalyptic that reminded us how little and insignificant we are, but it was fascinating, though.

Master of the place, the lighthouse shone for the first time in 1897 and is still operating to protect the south coast and guide ships in the night through the wild elements. The dangerous rocky coast which laid around reminded me a bit of my native Brittany and was completely opposed from the Northland coastal that I was lucky enough to explore nearly two years ago.

As Summer was still too shy to show up, there was no chance for us to see the South Island in the background but the cloudy atmosphere got something mystic and passionate. Also while leaving Palliser coast, a magical light appeared above the surface of the sea to allow us the view of the shadowy Rimutaka hills in the distance, just beautiful.

Anyway, we got distracted! While driving along the rocky coast, we had suddenly to pull over by the ocean after I literally screamed SEEEALLLLLL!!!!! to my driver. No biggie, eh! We all are a child hidden inside, right?
Actually, it was a perfect spot for a quick picnic with the seals, fascinating but very smelly creatures! About twenty of them, visible, because I guess there were much more hidden, were chilling on the rocks before another fish hunting. Seal life seems quite relaxing! Those huge dudes were just enjoying a sunbath and one of them was definitely bigger than me and it is not talking about the weight!
Oh! and by the way, the secret for a successful picnic is few berries, some pistachios and a fresh Garagista, simple. But beware the seals!

The time flying away and coming heavy clouds were catching us so we couldn’t stop for a walk around the Putangirua Pinnacles, famous for its extraordinary landscape and its film location – The Path of the Dead (LotR – Return of the King). This will be a pretext for another adventure!

I definitely would recommend this trip to any photographs lovers, wildlife adventurous, or to everyone who knows that simple things are always the most enjoyable.

It was a There and Back again to Wellington, just a perfect day to listen to some of the best post-rock bands, hair in the wind! One of those fabulous moments that shows how beautiful is my new country with its so powerful but so fragile environment and where nothing in life must be taken for granted and everything should be cherished at every occasion because when it is gone, it is forever.

It was a day out-of-time.

I took these pictures when I went back to Cape Palliser a month later after babies seals were born!


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