One Camera, One Map, and Two Turbos: Pt. 2 Cape Palliser, NZ

Subaru Legacy RSK
Alright, we’ll start off with the elephant in the room first.  Those wheels.  As noted in Pt. 1, when I bought this car, one of the rims had a crack in it.  That cracked rim, after a week of spirited driving, was now leaking air fairly steadily.  My search on, local to Wellington, came up with these golden beauties for short money.  With my time in this country limited to less than six months, I felt I could live with such a bold look for such a short time.  The background is the point of this post, let’s focus.

Cape Palliser is a promontory, with lighthouse, on the southernmost part of New Zealand’s North Island.  The road to get there is nothing short of jaw dropping.  A couple hours time from Wellington, I took the same path over the Rimutakas as last time, on Route 2, and then a hard right in Featherston on Route 53, toward Martinborough.  Martinborough being in a big wine region, I figured I can stock up the house while on this journey – two birds.  The road to Martinborough was not that long, but a nice two lane winding road through mostly the greenest of green pastures.

Martinborough itself turned out to be a cool little lunch spot.  I used the public library to transfer some cash into my checking account, had my standard meat pie for lunch, and left the wine purchases for later.  Oh, and it turns out that this town is the Home of Thunderpants, something most noteworthy, that to this day I still know nothing about.  There is the Silver Lion, parked with it’s bling gold wheels, in front of the wine shop, where I did some scouting for later on.
Home of Thunderpants
Lake Ferry Road heads right out of Martinborough, and this is where the scenery hit “Holy s*%*” levels.  As you approach the ocean, the fields are day glow green, and the population drops off to the point where companionship is pretty much a gaggle of sheep ( which may be spot on for some folks).

After turning on Cape Palliser Road, the ocean comes into view and I actually had to get out of the car and just stare for a while.  It’s dumbfounding, and once again, no blocks of apartment buildings or modular homes as far as the eye can see.  Ahead were lots of curves, lots of straights, mostly pavement, then some dirt.  The Subaru was eating it up.

Here are the waterfront residents.  Cows.  They had no gated driveways, or security detail.  No nine bedroom marble mansions, or glass skyscraper apartments littering the landscape.  Just cows, and they were just hanging out in front of a perfect ocean scene.  Brilliant.

Talk about open road.  I got to stretch the Subaru’s legs on this jaunt – no cars passed either way and no cows jumped in the way, that would have been a day ender – death by burger.

Fifth gear.  Large turbo making that awesome 747 sound.  On the way back, I took it easy and actually got to enjoy the ocean view.

After that rocket spell, I came across the only small town along this road, Ngawi.  Small, as in all of it is located in the photo below.

The folks in the Ngawi pulled the best macho move I have ever seen, instead of massive 4x4s to pull their boats from the ocean, they used old bulldozers.  You don’t get much more of a bitchin’ scene than a row of vintage bulldozers along an amazing ocean front.

If you wanna make sure you can retrieve your boat when it comes in, buy a David Brown.

Bulldozer Bulldozer
Conditions along this route go from nice, smooth, and open, to crumbling mess with a brook running through it.  If you see road cones in New Zealand, chances are a part of the road has now slid off into the abyss.  Take heed, Kiwis don’t put down warnings way out here unless absolutely necessary.
Cape Palliser, New Zealand
Once you get past Ngawi, the road gets thinner, and turns to gravel.  Next stop is Cape Palliser itself.
Cape Palliser, NZ
Fur seals camp along the water front on this stretch before reaching the end of the road.

Where the road ends, there is a small parking lot.  From there is a short hike to get over to the bottom of the lighthouse steps.  At this point I was hoping that thin white line was some kind of escalator or catapult device.

Jeez.  The lighthouse ascent consists of 250 steps to the top.  This was a pipe hittin’ climb to the lower half of the body, but the views from the top were outstanding.

With my legs on fire, I reached the top, which allowed views of the hike down to the point, where a fur seal colony is located and off to the right, the road that I came in on from Ngawi.   Once again, no hotels, no condos, just awesome.

Going back down those freakin’ steps was no picnic either, and as I hobbled to my car I made a deal with myself, one last stop on the ocean front, and then it’s off to meet hops and barley.
Cape Palliser, NZ
The road’s edge on my return – left side is like a torn sheet of loose leaf.
Subaru Legacy RSK
The final stop on the water front, before the sore legged drive back to Martinborough, for some wine stock, and Garage Project IPA.
Next outing, I bring my man, Chris Moss. and his trusted steed Henri.  We dumb around on Route 1 headed up toward Mt. Taranaki, and push the Subaru’s beach capabilities.
Thanks again New Zealand, your drives are nothing short of majestic.

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7 responses to “One Camera, One Map, and Two Turbos: Pt. 2 Cape Palliser, NZ”

  1. Roland Alfonso Avatar
    Roland Alfonso

    Beautiful, wonderful post. Thank you!

  2. Ol' Shel' Avatar
    Ol’ Shel’

    Really great. Makes me want to go.

    1. David Link Avatar
      David Link

      And so you should. Amazingly nice people, crushing scenery and open drives. The best drives I have ever been on. The South Island is bewilderingly beautiful. Since our winter is their summer, Dec-March is the best time to tour.

  3. Rover 1 Avatar
    Rover 1

    If you do visit NZ and drive, remember to watch your speed. The 100km/h (62mph) limit is rigorously enforced, as in Australia, and the fines are big. And there’s a points system, three speeding tickets in a year = loss of license for six months. A good radar detector and a laser jammer are IMHO quite essential.
    (Laser jammers are legal because transmitting at 903 nanometres has to be legal, otherwise you couldn’t light a fire or shine a light)
    Other than that small wrinkle, there’s no place in the world I’d rather live. This post reinforces it.
    Oh, and watch the strong sunlight, our air is so clean down here in the Southern Ocean because there’s so little dust and pollution, UV levels are very high. How far south is NZ? Due south from Cape Palliser, and that lovely scenery, the next land you’ll run into is Antarctica.

    1. David Link Avatar
      David Link

      This is all very correct. I did pick up some tickets down here, and did learn that sunscreen is your very best friend. As far as speed enforcement goes – NZ is very thorough. They keep their population safe, and enforce very hard around schools – which anyone can understand.

  4. outback_ute Avatar

    Is there anything more annoying than a fogged out scenic lookout (aka overlook)? (Obviously yes, many bigger life issues, but it is disappointing)

    1. David Link Avatar
      David Link

      I took a drive up to Mt Taranaki one weekend to take night photos, even bought a lens for it. All weekend, clouds and fog. Couldn’t even see the mountain. Still, the drive was worth it. All drives are worth it actually – unless it’s in city traffic.

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