Last weekend, J and I hit the road and enjoyed the most scenic views to Cape Palliser - the southernmost part of the North island. The whole experience left me in awe as we passed by beautiful landscapes and drove over the picturesque Rimutaka mountain range.
Although I thoroughly enjoyed the whole adventure, there was just this 15 minute part of the journey that made me really uneasy and that was the drive over Rimutaka Hill Road. The road although structurally good, was steep and winding. I was so scared that I couldn't even drop my left arm from the grab handle (or others call it the "Oh, sh*t" bar). I never liked traveling over mountains to be honest. I used to force myself to sleep whenever I went up to Baguio in my university days so that I wouldn't feel the bus going up Marcos Highway. Unfortunately, I don't sleep in a moving vehicle (that much) anymore. Instead, I have turned into this annoying old lady who constantly tells the driver to be careful, to watch out for sharp turns and to slow down. Not your ideal passenger perhaps but poor J, he doesn't really have much choice, does he?
Anyway, from the Rimutaka Hill, the road ahead was mostly flat and empty.
Within thirty minutes we reached a small town called Pirinoa. The first thing that caught my eyes as we entered the town was a very small church - the smallest church that I have ever seen. I didn't expect to see such a quaint church in the middle of farmlands.
Burnside Church, Pirinoa
As the village looked very small, I was not even sure if they had a local cafe. But lo and behold, they had one and it's apparently the first in the village. I'm glad we found this coffee shop, otherwise we would have missed out on a good experience. The Land Girl coffee shop may have looked like an old warehouse to me from afar, but when I walked closer and went inside I was wowed by the beautifully designed little cafe. The ambiance was so welcoming and very cosy. The colours of the furniture were eye-friendly and the stuff that were on sale were really cute. Yes, The Land Girl is not just a coffee shop, it is also a proper shop. You can buy most things from there like clothes, books, jewelries, lotions, arts and crafts and homeware. And before I forget why we went there in the first place, their latte was very good.
The Land Girl Coffee Shop
The more or less than half an hour drive through Lake Ferry Road led us to Cape Palliser Road, where we were greeted by one of the most stunning sea-views I have seen in my life so far.
Further along were backdrops of beautiful mountains.
And more amazing colours of the sea.
Majority of the roads to the Lighthouse were paved , however there were a couple of rocky and dusty roads that we had to drive through. Also, the bridges were one way only. Apart from that, it was a straightforward journey.
There were more than 250 steps up to the lighthouse (I overheard a boy telling his parents that it's 251 not 253). It was not a bad climb for me, but if you are scared of heights it could be a little bit challenging especially going down. But regardless, you will be rewarded with amazing views.
The unmanned Cape Palliser Lighthouse
From the lighthouse, we headed back to Lake Ferry Road to have lunch at Lake Ferry hotel. People are raving about the hotel's fish and chips being the best in this part of New Zealand, but we were disappointed as they only had snack menu at that time. So J had their chicken sandwich and I had buffalo wings instead which were also good.
The restaurant has the beautiful view of Lake Onoke which is definitely a bonus especially on a glorious day.
Lake Ferry Hotel
2 Lake Ferry Road
New Zealand, 5772
It really sounds like we had a long day but we actually still missed a few things on this trip. Somehow we forgot about the fur seals which were just on the rocks at the bottom of the lighthouse. It would have also been nice to see the Putangirua Pinnacles and the fishing village of Ngawi.
J mentioned about going back that way to go to Martinborough for wine tasting, but I know that this means going over the Rimutaka range again. I think I will need some time to recondition myself for this trip.
Our day trip to Cape Palliser Lighthouse was indeed enjoyable. I would say you should visit this place if you happen to be in the lower part of the North Island. It's a worthy 2 1/2-hour drive.