Wairarapa

Cape Palliser

Drive the coast road to Cape Palliser, where you can climb a lighthouse, watch a seal colony and enjoy the non-stop views.

The road to Cape Palliser is dramatically scenic. This area of New Zealand has a rich history of early Maori occupation and heritage sites are part of the fascinating landscape. For the final part of the journey, the road clings to the edge of the coast, providing unstoppable views of Palliser Bay. Check out the quirky fishing village of Ngawihi before you drive on to the lighthouse.

Installed in 1897, the Cape Palliser lighthouse will test your fitness. Take a deep breath and climb the 250 steps. Once you're at the top, it's easy to see why this area of ocean was known for seafaring disasters. During the 19th century, there were about 20 ships wrecked in or near Palliser Bay.

The fur seal colony at the cape is the North Island's largest. New Zealand fur seals have pointy noses, long whiskers, visible external ears and bodies covered with two layers of fur. The breeding season is from mid-November to mid-January. Pups start to feed on solid food before weaning, and spend a large proportion of their day playing with other pups and objects such as seaweed and reef fish.