I arrived at what can only be described as a ‘makeshift’ parking lot. Standing in an enthusiastic wind, I steady myself for the ascent to the red and white striped Cape Palliser Lighthouse that sat on a rocky point some 60 metres above me.
To get to the Lighthouse (having first survived the drive), first you must commit yourself to climbing the 252 steps which were built in 1912. Keeping in mind that the Lighthouse was first lit in 1897, that gives 15 years that Keepers had to scramble up a dangerously slippery dirt track just to reach the Lighthouse. Once there, they still had to haul the supplies (oil and kerosene) up the cliff face to the light station by way of a hand winch.
Getting supplies to live off was just as complicated. Stores were delivered every 3 months, weather permitting. On the occasions when the seas were too rough, the stores were landed 6 kilometres away at Kawakawa Bay. This then left the Lighthouse Keeper with the dilemna of getting the stores back to his lodgings.
Standing at the Lighthouse I took a moment to take in my surroundings. It was beginning to rain. The wind was picking up and I couldn’t help but reflect that the life of a Lighthouse Keeper must have been a lonely existence. With that I departed, heading for the charm of the Martinborough Hotel.