22 Dec 2017

Popular Cape Palliser

From Country Life, 9:26 pm on 22 December 2017

There's been a huge influx of tourists to the North Island's remote southern coast recently, a long-time resident says.

Cape Palliser is the southernmost part of the North Island - a two-and-a-half-hour drive from Wellington, over the Rimutaka Hill and along sometimes twisting, gravel Wairarapa roads.

The nearest settlement is the tiny fishing village of Ngawi, which is home to about ten families.

John Priest lives near Ngawi, a few minutes' drive from Cape Palliser.

"I wouldn't mind betting that in the last 12 months that there's been an increase of at least 30 to 40 percent in tourists. Phenomenal.".

People come to see seal pups frolicking in rock pools and their parents lumbering over rocks and sunbathing nearby, John says.

Tourists stop to photograph bulldozers launching and landing crayfishing boats and to climb the steps to the striking Cape Palliser lighthouse.

The grand old lighthouse is 'a must see', according to Lonely Planet.

"I went past here (the lighthouse) last week actually, and I counted 42 people going up the steps and I came back from my walk and I still counted 42 and I don't think it was the same (group)."

Cape Palliser has also made the list of the top ten places to visit in New Zealand, he says.

"I just love the environment, of looking at the hills and the sea at the same time you know. Being able to go whitebaiting in the morning and then go out and get your paua and crayfish and maybe shoot a venison that night. You know, get the whole four in one day."

The weather can be cruel, though, the former farmer says.

"It's not easy. It's drought, it's wind, it's floods, it's slips. Our southerly is straight from the Antarctic. It hasn't seen land before so it can be quite punishing."

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