Cape Palliser


Cape Palliser


South Wairarapa, Wairarapa, New Zealand


Rough and wild coastal route from Cape Palliser to White Rock




Bike and Foot


Beside the steps to the Cape Palliser lighthouse is a small carpark, and a 4WD track leading north along the coastline. This is through private land to a DOC reserve (Ngapotiki block). Public access is allowed provided you stay on the track.

Note that this area is isolated. No cellphone coverage. No phones, no houses. Nearest settlement is Ngawihi on the road to Cape Palliser. Be self-sufficient. (That said, there always seems to be surfers, quad bikers or farmers around!).

From Cape Palliser carpark the rough 4WD farm track proceeds along the coastline for about 3.5 km, where there is a gate at the entrance to the DOC Ngapotiki reserve. Walking access only through the reserve - if you did take a bike there is about 1 km of sandy area and a short sharp hill which you'd be pushing your bike on anyway. That said, quad bikes and cyclists do follow the road.

After descending the short, sharp hill there is a locked gate, and then the flat again as you enter the White Rock bay area. About 3 km further on there is another locked gate, the DOC entrance from White Rock side to the Ngapotiki block. If you brave the road across the hills from Martinborough (its a long way) then this is where you would park. White Rock itself, a "white rock" just off the shore, is a couple of km further on, in approximately the middle of the bay.

You should plan to return the same way - it is a long way to put a car at both ends. The coastal track is uneven and muddy in places, with a few river crossings and large puddles after rain. It took me 3 hours for a return trip using a bicycle - plan on at least 3 hours each way if walking.

Typical view of coastal track Coastal track

Entrance to Ngapotiki block from White Rock end White Rock entrance

View of White Rock bay area White Rock bay

Getting there

I suggest using the Cape Palliser carpark. From Martinborough take the road to Lake Ferry, turning off the Cape Palliser and follow the road to the end (about 70 km from Martinborough). It is sealed apart from the last few kilometres. Get supplies (food, drink, pletrol) at Martinborough as there isn't much past there. There is a road to White Rock, but it is a long unsealed road.

Other notes

Stunning place on a good day. Exposed and desolate on a stormy day. Make sure you tell someone where you are going.

Cycling is not permitted through Ngapotiki block.

After Ngawihi there is the little settlement of Mangatoetoe, and between there and the Cape Palliser lighthouse you will often see Seals on the rocks.






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Last modified

29 Jul 2009 by Jonny

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