Ngawi and Cape Palliser

Wairarapa is in very close proximity to New Zealand’s capital city, Wellington and boasts some spectacular sights.  Whether you’re climbing to the Rimutaka Trig or venturing further afield to see the coastline itself you will be in for a treat with two of the regions most spectacular lighthouses both on this side of ‘the hill’.

The Road-trip to Cape Palliser

Cape Palliser is a two hour drive from Wellington and is the southern-most tip of the North Island of New Zealand.  Generally the roads are easy going and sealed, but as you get closer you start hitting some gravel, narrow roads.  When I captured the image featured, I actually drove to Cape Palliser and back to Wellington in the one night.

Cape Palliser Map


Shortly before you reach Cape Palliser itself, you will pass through the small fishing village of Ngawi – this would in my opinion be the better place to hole up for the night if you’re planning a stay.

If you are wanting to overnight, your best bet for accommodation here is hiring a local bach – it’s pretty isolated!  Alternatively you can camp – but be warned it can get cold and very windy so go prepared!  You’re not exactly spoiled for choice when it comes to food… advice is take (or catch) your own.

Ngawi is not without it’s charm though – the number of fishing boats, rusty boat trailors and large tractors right on the shore provide some good opportunity for photography.

The Cape Palliser Lighthouse

The Cape Palliser lighthouse is not for the faint-hearted.  A rather steep and long series of steps leads up to the lighthouse.  From memory you’re looking at climbing about 270 steps.  But from whatever angle you want to see it, whether making the climb or from down below there are some spectacular photographs to be had regardless of weather conditions.

At the bottom, you will not be in short supply of sights to see and photographic opportunities when facing away from the lighthouse.  The rocky shoreline in itself provides plenty of subject matter – throw in the abundant rock pools in which seals lounge around or play in and there is scope for the wildlife photographer as well as the landscaper.

I went at night, when the skies are very dark and the stars spectacular……it’s pretty much a night shooter must-do!

Palliser Bay Milky Way Reduced

This image is also taken from the top of the steps right next to the lighthouse itself.  This was early in New Zealand’s milky way season.  Camera settings used for this image were:

  • 24mm
  • f/4
  • 20 seconds
  • ISO 6400

The featured image is what I regard as one of the best images I’ve ever captured (I rank it only slightly behind  one of my Chimpanzee images).  It is a three shot panorama and I used the following camera settings:

  • 24mm
  • f/4
  • 20 seconds
  • ISO 6400

Overall, Cape Palliser (and Ngawi) are definitely worth the trip out.  Along the way there is plenty to see and explore.

All images I publish on this blog are lower-resolution versions.  If you like what you see, you can stop by here and purchase a full resolution image over the net!  Simply click on the image of your choice and click ‘Buy Print’ – it’s as easy as that!  I hope this blog helps you in your travels.


Author: davidwillingphotographer

I am based in Wellington, New Zealand. In my spare time I enjoy wandering around and taking photos. Money permitting I like to go a bit further afield than the back door-step.

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