Driving out from Masterton 🚌 to visit Castlepoint is one of those things that anyone who is visiting the area probably does given that the lighthouse is one of the most visited in the country. So it was with us heading out from the showgrounds early to make the most of the day. It’s a 60 km trip along a well made country road much wider than we had been used too on most of our journeys in this part of the country.
We had passed up the chance to spend another night with Annelise and the rest of the team from the NZMCA group from Taupo. So we could have our front wheel sorted in Masterton. They had chosen to spend the night at the Tinui Cafe and Bar a freedom camping area 20 kms from Castlepoint. Where they all celebrated Han’s 70th birthday with a slap up dinner and birthday cake. We gave them a toot as we passed expecting to see them later at the lighthouse.
Our plan of leaving Masterton early to avoid the crowds was successful with the area devoid of people on our arrival, although it’s possible the weather had something to do with this as well with our first really windy day over the last couple of weeks. We had also without knowing it timed it really well with the tide making it’s way out allowing access along the beach to the lighthouse.
From the bottom it looks steeper than it actually was and with the path in really good condition the walk to the lighthouse was easier than I though it was going to be. As we got higher up the rocky outcrop where the lighthouse sits we began to glimpse the lagoon that sits behind it.
It’s funny because I always imagined that a lighthouse would be built on the highest accessible point closest to the sea. Here though the lighthouse is not on the highest point in fact there is still another 20 or so metres of steps to climb to the top. It was from here that I took a dreadful selfie of the two of us looking down to the lighthouse that Sarah refused to let me publish. We did however get a much better shot of the lagoon on the other side. You can see that the weather gods weren’t smiling on us and although it wasn’t raining the wind was certainly starting to blow us around.
We descended the steps on the otherside of the lighthouse that take you down to a rocky ledge. You can see me holding onto the railings as with the wind getting up I didn’t want to be blown off the steps. (Such a wimp I know) Sarah wanted the shot taken of her close to the cliff edge but there was no money in the world that was going to make me stand there for a similar shot!
Once you have descended the far side you can walk along the rocky ledge then back up to the lighthouse to descend towards the fishing boats parked on the hard sand between the lighthouse and the mainland. It’s a great walk and despite the wind was one that we both really enjoyed, you can see why it’s such a popular place for tourists to visit.
With the lighthouse ticked off the list ✅ we wanted to inspect the freedom camping area in the carpark here. First we needed to walk past the fishing boats parked up on the hard sands. It’s quite the sight to see these huge boats sitting on trailers just waiting to be launched or the empty trailer of one that was already out there catching it’s quota.
The freedom camping area is located in the main carpark but unless you are 6.5 metres or shorter don’t even think about it. With the sand from below having blown up and taken over some of the carpark the spaces are even shorter than normal reducing the available space. There are toilets here but no water. (see review further down the page)
Standing in the carpark we could see people standing on the hill at the other end of the lagoon and noticed a walkway that runs alongside slowly heading uphill. Figuring that we hadn’t yet done out daily walking quota we set off up the hill. As the pathy slowly climbs uphill the scope of the lagoon area becomes more apparent.
Reaching the top, at least of the formed path. There was a goat track that took you up another part of the hill but it looked far too steep and dangerous for us to contemplate. Even though the wind was quite strong at the top it was a mild day and after the exertion of getting up here both of us had taken off our jackets to cool down a bit. The views from up here really make the walk worthwhile and I wonder how many people just visit the lighthouse decide that they have done it all and don’t get anywhere near this walk.
As the saying goes what goes up must come down and it’s here that we decided the direct route down to the beach below would be the way we took. It is rather steep in places with the path having slipped away in another but a much quicker way to descend. With us stopping in a few places to take in the changing views.
Down on the beach and with the tide almost completely out we had wide areas of firm sand to wander back towards the carpark. It was as we were getting close to the carpark that we noticed a group of people fishing of the cliff on the otherside. Not something that I would have contemplated doing with the chance of a rouge wave coming through causing the need for search and rescue. They actually had to walk past a huge sign that stated the dangers of climbing on these cliffs.
When we got back to our van we noticed that Annelise, Gary and the rest of the Taupo NZMCA group parked up next to us, with their kettle on it was our final catch up on this trip before we went our separate ways. As I mentioned in my previous blog some people make you feel so welcome and this group certainly did that. We hope to meet them again on the road someday soon.
We did have some excitement when we noticed a number of police cars arrive outside the local store. In the end there were 4 marked vehicles and 1 undercover vehicle that ended up circling the area. Some of the police even ended up climbing to the lighthouse but since none of them stopped to ask us if we had seen anything exactly what they were doing there remains a mystery.
To view the places we have visited click here to see them on Google maps. You can click the links to read the blog about that area.
To view the Ratings we have done for places we have stayed click here
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