10 November 2021
Located on the Wairarapa coast an hour’s drive from Masterton, Castlepoint is a small townside in a gorgeous seaside environment & features the 162m high Castle Rock.
Castlepoint has been voted one of the country’s top 10 most loved beaches, with its beautiful sweeping high sand cliffs on one end and a small community nestled on rolling hillsides on the other.
The beach is also known for the lighthouse which stands near the top of the northern end of a reef. There is a small island known locally as ‘Seagull Island’ due to its large population of the bird.
Castlepoint was named in 1770 by Captain Cook because he thought that Castle Rock resembled the battlements of a castle. Castle Rock soars 162m into the air. There is a walk through bush and over bridges around the base which is around 1.5hrs.
The Castlepoint Lighthouse was first lit in 1913. It is one of the last two remaining beam lighthouses in NZ. The light flashes twice every 30 seconds and can be seen 48km out to sea. The lighthouse keeper was still on the job until 1988. It was the last manned lighthouse in NZ. Nowadays, it is remotely controlled by a central location in Wellington.
The lighthouse is built on part of the reef that it protects seafarers from and stretches a whopping 1km out to sea! Built initially to protect the ships sailing from Panama.
It was an easy walk up to the base of the lighthouse. The highlight of our walk was the relatively new decking walkway which continued past the lighthouse and provided us with panoramic views across the bay and beyond.
On our way back to Martinborough, we did a slight detour to the little town of Tinui. This little unassuming town (and I mean little – only around 25 full time residents!) was the site of the first ANZAC Service ever held in the world on 25 April 1916.
In 1914 there were over a thousand single men from the area who volunteered to go to war. Many did not return.
The vicar of The Church of the Good Shepherd held a service in the church to commemorate the dead in 1916. He led an expedition to place a large cross 360m high on Mt Maunsell which overlooks the village. The walking track to the cross is only open between 1 November and 25 April.
The church has been moved to the centre of the town and is currently under restoration.
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