Wine, Badlands, Lighthouses – Lower North

Wine tasting and day-trips in lower North Island. The drive from Wellington to Martinborough in the Wairarapa Valley is a one-hour roller-coaster ride – a narrow, winding road with blind corners through the Remutaka Range (aka Rimutaka). All good!

Barely out of Wellington, we stopped at Kaitoke Reserveaka Rivendell, House of Elrod (and Liv Tyler), Lord of the Rings (LOTR). The swinging bridge and hike was a good start to our day.

Back on the road – At the mountain summit, a memorial commemorates 60,000 NZ WWI soldiers who marched over the Rimutaka Crossing to embark to the front from 1915-1918.

Tips for Next Time:

  1. At the summit, the Te Ara Tirohanga Track. Translation “The view that improves as you climb the ascending pathway” (aka Rimutaka Trig Track) Walk – 45 minutes return.
  2. The Rimutaka Rail Trail is a gently graded 18km track with historic tunnels and railway bridges. Mountain Bike Ride – 2-3 hours to summit, and back.


THE BIG NEWS is that Sauvignon Blanc made in the Wairarapa Valley, and North Island, tastes NOTHING like the Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc ubiquitously and feverishly marketed around the world. Marlborough SB is grassy, lime, tart green apple, sour. Everywhere else…crisp, refreshing, floral notes, soft – beautiful!

Favorite Cellar Doors (White/Red/Rose) – Poppies, Moy Hall, Ata Rangi, Margrain (Chenin Blanc), Te Kairanga

“Walking Opportunity” at the edge of Martinborough. Over stiles, through the fields.

Cape Palliser (Bottom End)

Putangirua Pinnacles – What started as an “easy walking path next to a stream – 90 minutes return” devolved into a tramp through the rocky streambed, crossing the stream 5 times. We persisted well beyond 90 minutes. The pinnacles were spectacular.

Description – Badland erosion/geological formations, and another LOTR filming location – “The Paths of the Dead”, the waking of the dead army.

Beyond the Pinnacles to the bottom end – A road wedged between the sea and soft stone cliffs, with evidence of erosion under the cliffs. The roadbed narrows on a cliff edge and becomes gravel then sheets of flat rock. Impassable if waves and winds are high, but what a thrill!

Ngawi Village (“Nawi“) tucked under a cliff, with a long line of rusty bulldozers and tractors whose purpose is to push/pull commercial fishing boats in/out of Cook Strait. The boats float away once in deep water, the tractors fight the wild surf to return to their spot on the beach.

Palliser Lighthouse (1897) – At dusk, a dash up 253 steps. North Island’s most southern point.

Day Trip to Spectacular Castle Point Lighthouse

On the Wairarapa Coast is NZ’s tallest lighthouse and possibly the most photographed, built in 1913.

Deliverance Cove Track runs along the lagoon to 160 steep stairs up the cliffs and a ridge track with amazing views. 

Where to next? Moving west

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6 thoughts on “Wine, Badlands, Lighthouses – Lower North

  1. Spectacular scenery that must touch your soul in the joy of life! The coastal scenes, straight up mountains… LOTR and sunsets are beyond words!

    Steve looks pretty stately there in the reserve!

    Never saw or read LOTR… perhaps when Patente is finito! x

  2. WOW, life is grand and the scenery is spectacular! Keep the pictures coming! I’m enjoying the trip as much as you….thank you Steve and Marlene.

  3. Rivendell! And all those steps and vistas. Wow. Thanks for taking us with you. We could all use a “walking opportunity” that feeds the soul with such beauty. xo

  4. Super pretty views, and a fun read. Can’t wait to see what’s next!

  5. Thanks for taking me along 😉
    I’m exhausted from all those steps .

  6. Sandra Piechocki July 27, 2020 — 2:49 am

    Amazing. So glad you two are enjoying this adventure. Really splendid photos of lighthouse and beaches. Ah!

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