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

Cape Palliser, Wairarapa

The road to Cape Palliser is dramatically scenic, from the pounding surf and rocky coastline to the stunning sunsets here.


This area of Wairarapa 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.

Stop at the Putangirua Pinnacles on your way and marvel at the rock formations after a hike up the riverbed.


Check out the quirky fishing village of Ngawi if you fancy some roadside fish and chips. Once a crayfish processing town, now it's a local holiday spot with great pop-up food options.

You can still see its fishing heritage as Ngawi has more tractors per head of population than anywhere else in the world. The old workhorses haul the fishing boats in and out of the Cook Strait waves.

See the bulldozers and tractors parked up on the fishing beach along with the boats, then pop into the local shop for a hat or a cray pot, before you drive on around the coast to the lighthouse.

Cape Palliser Lighthouse 

Built in 1897, the Cape Palliser lighthouse steps 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.

Today the lighthouse is an iconic part of the landscape and a perfect spot for your holiday snaps. 

See the seal colony 

You're bound to spot more than a couple of seals here, as thefur seal colony at the cape is the North Island's largest. Watch the fur seals play in the surf and laze on the rocks.

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. 

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