Being from Kauai, we’ve noticed quite a few similarities between the Hawaiian and Maori cultures and events, and Castlepoint Scenic Reserve was no exception. Interestingly, it was named by Captain Cook in 1770 who thought that Castle Rock was similar to the battlements of a castle. After discovering & exploring New Zealand, Captain Cook later sailed to the Hawaiian Islands in 1778 where he ultimately met an untimely death at the hands of a mob in the Big Island’s Kealakekua Bay on February 14, 1779; but I digress.
Castlepoint Scenic Reserve is an excellent day trip, located on the Wairarapa Shoreline in the Wellington Region of the North Island about an hours drive from Masterton. The winding road takes you though the undulating New Zealand landscape which showcases her many shades of green before arriving at the small beach town of Castlepoint.
Continue past the town to the end of the road where you’ll see signage and parking for the Castlepark Scenic Reserve. There are two tramping tracks there; Deliverance Cove and the Lighthouse walk. We opted to start with the Deliverance Cove hike which provides sweeping views as you climb to the top of Castle Peak. We recommend starting the track at the far right side of the parking lot instead of the beach as the climb is gradual and does not become steep until just before the peak. You’ll find the start clearly marked. The tramp runs along a ridge which has several points which provided ocean views on both sides and occasional sightings of seals!
The views just got better and better as we crested to the top of Castle Rock! There is one steep area going up but it’s quite doable and you can just take your time. When you get to the top of Castle Rock, turn right for Northern Coastline views then go back to the left and have all of the Southern Coastline, the Lighthouse and the lagoon, known as Deliverance Cove, virtually at your feet. It is mesmerizing!
When you’ve taken in as much as you can for one day, you can return by the same track or take the beach trail that goes off to the right from the main trail and make your return that way. The access from the beach coming up is by way of steps and we were glad we’d walked up on the right side of Castle Rock and came down the steps instead of the other way around. It’s an easy walk along the beach over to your next destination which is the Castle Point Lighthouse.
A short boardwalk and a succession of steps takes you to the Lighthouse which is relatively easy after the “Rock.” There’s a lookout just past the lighthouse which offers great views back past the lighthouse to the lagoon and Castle Rock. The steps continue down to the shoreline where you can then walk along the rocks back to the beach making for a truly wonderful loop tramp.
Bring plenty of water and something to snack on as there is no food or water at the Reserve and not much in the town either. Compared to some other destinations, we’ve found the cost of food and eating out in New Zealand rather high so a snack will help curb your appetite until you get home or to a larger town. Be sure the wear sunscreen and a hat as both tramps are fully exposed to the sun and can be quite windy. Check out our SeniorsWithLatitude Facebook page for a 360 video.