Heading northeast from Wellington we made our first stop at Castlepoint. Castlepoint is located on the Wairarapa coast and is one of the most spectacular sites in the region. Hiking along the peninsula to the lighthouse offered wonderful views of the powerful Pacific Ocean, as well as Castle Rock – a sheer cliff rising approximately 152 meters (500 feet) out of the sea! We were in the company of a few fishermen and local surfers, but otherwise it was remote and surreal.
From there we continued north, stopping in Mangatainoka (near Palmerston North) for some refreshing Tui beers at the Tui brewery – a nice reintroduction to the North Island, for sure!
The following day we enjoyed a beautiful afternoon and beach-side picnic in Napier (a town famous for it’s Art Deco architecture) before packing up and driving further north to find some true WOLO-spots! We knew we were in the right place when a burning, setting sun cast amazing colors across an otherwise deserted beach. We spent the evening along the shore creating sand-art as the sun sank into the northeastern corner of Hawke’s Bay before heading to our free camping location.
There is no doubt that we were amazed by the sunset, but the sunrise definitely stole the show! We awoke to a blazing red sky that sent us dashing sleepily and barefooted across the campground, scurry about the van, and finally, driving (head out of the window until the windshield defrosted) to the closest beach to catch the rest of the morning awakening! The added bonus was that we were watching it rise from the “edge” of the world (if the world were flat, this is surely the place that you would fall off) making us the first few people on the entire planet to catch that gorgeous May 5th sunrise! WOLO!
[Note: After our mad morning rush we took time to look at the map and noted that we had been standing on Mahia Bay/Mahia Beach. This beach happens to fall into our Top 5 Beaches category. Aside from the glorious sunrise, this beach was completely devoid of people and boats and was made of soft, white sand strewn with the coolest collection of shells in all of NZ! It comes highly recommended if you’re willing to make the drive, and trust us, the drive is totally worth it!]
Next stop: Tolaga Bay & Cook’s Cove
Song lyrics: Ellie Goulding “Burn”
– Go. Change your state of mind.