Ngawi In The Wairarapa

Ngawi Beach

Having spent the early part of the day climbing up the 253 steps to Cape Palliser Lighthouse, I couldn’t help but spare a thought for the early lighthouse keepers at the Cape. When the lighthouse was open in 1897, not only did they have to scramble up a muddy, 58 metre-high cliff to get to the lighthouse, but they had to manually haul large drums of oil and kerosene up as well. This lunacy continued for the first 15 years of operation at Cape Palliser until someone had the genius idea of putting in a set of steps! So, having explored the famous lighthouse and the nearby fishing villages, avoiding washed out sections of road, I stopped and went for a walk along the beach at Ngawi. 

It was then that I noticed an extremely large and ominously dark wall of weather approaching from the south. Earlier in the day, I read that snow was forecast to fall in the Wairarapa area however that was something I’d chosen to ignore. I’d simply assumed it wouldn’t happen. After all, how often do you really believe snow will fall when it’s forecast. Now, late in the afternoon it seemed that snow was on its way.

Honouring The Māori Battalion

Whare Maumahara

During World War II the name Te Rau Aroha was given to a mobile canteen truck, which was sent from New Zealand to Māori Battalion soldiers who served on the battlefields overseas between 1940 and 1945. Once near the front, the canteen became a place for soldiers to gather and hear the latest news broadcasts, while enjoying home sweet treats and comforts from home. Almost 3600 men served with the Māori Battalion, of which 649 were killed in action, 1712 were wounded and 237 were prisoners of war.

So, when a name had to be chosen for a new museum in the Treaty Grounds honouring the Māori Battalion, naming it after the treasured Te Rau Aroha canteen truck seemed a logical choice. Now, there aren’t many places that I would legitimately call humbling, however the Te Rau Aroha Museum is one of them.

The Remutaka Road

The Remutaka Hill Road

The Remutaka Hill road is a narrow and winding 14km stretch of state highway, north of Wellington that snakes its way from Upper Hutt, over Remutaka Hill to the Wairapapa. Now, I can tell you that when you find yourself stuck on the Remutaka Road, in a very long line of traffic that isn’t moving, you have lots of time to ponder. So, that’s just what I did and within the great many things that crossed my mind, one question I kept coming back to. Who was the first person to drive over this road? That question ruminated in my mind for quite some time and while I didn’t discover the answer, I did find out the interesting tale of the Greytown to Wellington train from September 1880.

It seems that on the 11th September the train left Greytown at 8:30am bound for Wellington city. After stopping at Cross Creek where a second locomotive was added for preceding hill climb, the train set off over the Remutaka Hill. All was going well until about 1200m from the summit at a point called Siberia Curve when suddenly, a massive gust of wind hit the train. Estimated at nearly 200km/hour, the fierce wind swept three carriages off the tracks into the gully below, killing four people and leaving debris scattered across the hillside. Fortunately, following the accident the brake van remained gripped to the track enabling the rear brakesman to uncouple the van and coast back down the hill to Cross Creek to get help.

Kerikeri Mission Station

Kerikeri Mission Station

Finding myself within 20 or so kilometres of the Kerikeri Mission, I couldn’t resist and took a detour. The plan being to see the oldest European buildings in the country which I must admit, I was looking forward to seeing. I had read that both the stone store and wooden house were set in an enchanting riverside location in a sleepy basin, the two buildings sitting on a riverbank, surrounded by orchards and flowerbeds. It really was a tranquil, peaceful setting.  

Queens Park in Whanganui

Queens Park in Whanganui

The other day I somehow found myself reading an article about the North Island city of Whanganui. It was written by one of these travelling news journalists who write paid advertisements about places that are published in the disguise of ‘news’. On this occasion after spending three or four days in the city, he concluded it was an ‘amazing place buzzing with creative energy that it’s the absolute highlight of any trip.’ Apparently he had visited museums, art galleries, parks and places of natural beauty, enjoying all the charm and friendliness that Whanganui offered. Well, I have to say that my experience of the city was the complete opposite. When I was there the weather was terrible, the main business district felt a tad neglected, my hotel wasn’t much better and everyone I met or spoke to seemed a little despondent. Now I’m sure Whanganui has some lovely spots but when it comes to being a ‘city buzzing with creative energy,’ from my experience, I would have to disagree.

Heading To The North Island

The Martinborough Hotel in the North Island

At the moment I’m currently planning my next trip. I’m heading to the North Island in about 6 weeks where I’ll spend some time exploring however I’m yet to settle on a specific location. At this stage I’ve got several ideas and a number of possibilities but I’m yet to fix anything. Any suggestions?   

A Mystery Location

Somewhere I don’t know!

There are some things I can tell you about this photo and there are some things I can’t. For example, I can tell you that I took it in the North Island of New Zealand, that it is somewhere near Paraparaumu or Waikanae and finally that it was a misty, rainy afternoon. What I can’t tell you is its exact location as I can’t for the life of me remember! I was hoping that if I looked on a map it might jog my memory, however that didn’t help at all!

De Molen Foxton

De Molen Foxton

While driving through the North Island town of Foxton, it’s hard not to notice the very large Windmill. It’s also very hard to not be enticed to stop and visit it. Even if it’s only to look at it from the outside. After all, New Zealand doesn’t have many genuine Windmills and this is the real thing. Built to traditional Dutch plans, it is an authentic replica of a 17th-century flour mill that is totally operational. Not only that, it looks great too.

Mangaweka & Cyclone Hale

The Rangitikei River – Buy

On my way through the North Island I had a look around the town of Mangaweka. I was hoping to see the DC-3 aircraft tearooms and cafe, however, to my disappointment it was no-longer in existence, having moved two years previously in 2021. For over 30 years, one of the North Island’s most famous landmarks was the elevated Douglas DC-3 aircraft installed in the middle of Mangaweka as a tearooms. Opening in 1984, it was a popular roadside stop on State Highway 1 in the central North Island until 2021 when the plane was moved and then put up for sale in 2023. 

So, with the absences of the DC-3 aircraft tearooms, I called in at the Mangarere/Rangitikei River rest stop as tropical cyclone Hale was moving down along the east coast of North Island

KiriKiri Bay (Useless Bay)

Kirikiri Bay, Cape Palliser – Buy 

Sometime around the year 1827, French Explorer Dumont d’Urville named this location ‘Useless Bay.’ On account of the fact that at the time he was unable to go shore due to heavy seas. To some degree he was correct, as there is a long list of shipwrecks and stories of boats sinking after striking rocks along the rugged and dangerous coastline. These days, it’s better known as Kirikiri Bay and is right next to the Cape Palliser Lighthouse.

Return To Martinbourgh

The former Martinbourgh Post Office & Store – Buy 

I thought I’d quickly detour back to Martinbourgh to follow up on a post I did the other day about  the Martinborough Hotel. Well, literally just across the road on the corner of Kitchener Street and Memorial Square is the former Post Office and Store. To this day it remains another fine example of the building and architecture from the pre-1900 era. 


The streets of Martinbourgh
Wanting to pay tribute to the city of London, all the streets leading out from the main square were planned and built in the form of a Union Flag.

The Martinborough Hotel

The Martinborough Hotel – Buy 

If you’re going to name a town, why not name it after yourself! That’s exactly what Irish settler John Martin did in 1879. After arriving in the South Wairarapa District from Wellington in the North Island of New Zealand, John Martin purchased a large sheep station with plans to develop a town in the area. Wanting to pay tribute to the city of London, all the streets leading out from the main square were planned and built in the form of a Union Flag. In 1882, three years after John Martin first purchased the land where Martinbourgh would be developed, on the corner of the town square the grand Martinborough Hotel was built. At the time, so impressive was the Martinborough Hotel, the proprietor boasted that it was ‘the finest hostelries ever erected in any inland town in New Zealand’.

Fareham House

Fareham House – Buy 

There are rumours that this place is haunted. It’s called Fareham House and is set amongst 25 acres of farmland, bush and orchard. While I was in the North Island, I spent some time in the Wairarapa District. On my travels, it was one of the places I stayed at. Before I arrived at Farehouse House , I had read that it was haunted and upon browsing in a local bookstore, one of the owners had informed me that it ‘most definitely was haunted.’So, you can imagine my excitement and anticipation when upon arrival I found the house to be a massive historic homestead that seemed perfect setting for some ghostly haunting.

Victoria Avenue In Whanganui

Victoria Avenue In Whanganui – Buy 

I arrived in Whanganui to rain, torrential rain to be precise. Having driven from Wellington to Upper Hutt and then up the North Island’s West Coast, the weather had been reasonably settled. Then, somewhere around either Levin or Foxton it had started to rain. By the time I reached Bulls the rain was getting harder and my arrival in Whanganui was greeted with an almost wall of rain. With the streets covered in puddles that were only increasing, I found a park near the river and went in search of sustenance.

Swimming At Tapeka Point

Swimming at Tapeka Point – Buy 

This was one of the stranger places I’ve had a conversation. At Tapeka Point Beach in the Bay Of Islands I was testing a waterproof camera and playing around with a few settings. In the bay there was a swimming pontoon. As I was about to swim back to the beach this man was waiting for his son and so we started chatting. We must have been talking for a good 3 to 4 minutes before his son snuck up behind him and pushed him in. It was all very assuming.

PwC In Wellington

Price Waterhouse Coopers Tower in Wellington – Buy 

While wandering through Wellington I started looking at all the buildings from different angles. The more I strolled through the streets, the more I searched out different perspectives. It really was rather fun exploring a city via car parks, alleyways and stairwells. Along a street called ‘The Terrace’ which is located in the city centre near Lambton Quay, I came across the Price Waterhouse Coopers Tower building that I photographed from across the road and via a car park. It also had some neat colours against the bright blue sky.

Te Whare Rūnanga At Waitangi

Carving at Te Whare Rūnanga – Buy 

When I was visiting Waitangi I went to the treaty grounds which is a very spiritual place. In the Upper Grounds there’s the Treaty House and also a Wharenui called Te Whare Rūnanga, which is a carved Māori meeting house. Inside the Wharenui we were allowed to take photos of all the wonderful carvings which are amazing to see.

Once I was home, and after processing the original image I decided to have a bit of fun with reflections, lines of symmetry and mirror lines to create this finished image.

Snow In Martinborough

Snow at The Martinborough Hotel  – Buy 

I’d spent the day at Cape Palliser, the southernmost point of the North Island. There, I explored the famous lighthouse, wandered around a few of the fishing villages, avoided washed out sections of road and went for a walk along the beach. Now, arriving back at my base of Martinborough, I discovered snow was starting to fall. Earlier in the day, I read that snow was forecast to fall in the Wairarapa area however that was something I’d chosen to ignore. I’d simply assumed it wouldn’t happen. After all, how often do you really believe snow will fall when it’s forecast.

The Haunting Of Fareham House In Featherston

Fareham House in Featherston – Buy 

While I was in the North Island, I spent some time in the Wairarapa District. On my travels, one of the places I stayed at was Fareham House in Featherston. Before I arrived, I had read it was haunted and upon arrival in Featherston while browsing in a local bookstore, one of the owners had informed me that it ‘most definitely is.’So, you can imagine my excitement and anticipation when upon arrival I found the house to be a massive historic homestead, set amongst 25 acres of farmland, bush and orchard. The perfect setting for some ghostly ghouls to haunt. 

Unfortunately, the only thing I discovered at Fareham House was a hangover the next morning after a little too much overindulgence at a bar the night before.

Christ Church In Russell (Kororāreka)

Christ Church in Russull (Kororāreka) – Buy 

The church on the corner of Church, Robertson and Baker Street in Russell (Kororāreka) was one of the places I wanted to visit while staying in the small town. Not only is it New Zealand’s oldest surviving church however it contains the grave sites of important Māori leaders Tamati Waka Nene, Hannah King and many other names linked to New Zealand’s history. It also has the graves of men from the HMS Hazard who died in the battle of Kororāreka which took place March 1845. What makes the church even more interesting is that as it was at the centre of the conflict between Māori and the British Army, there are bullet holes scattered around the church that remain to this very day. 

Foxton’s Dutch Windmill

De Molen Windmill in Foxton – Buy 

In New Zealand, you don’t get many opportunities to go inside a working Windmill. To be clear, I’m not meaning a wind farm which produces power. I mean the traditional type of Windmill which grounds wheat into flour.

Fortunately, Foxton in the North Island has a Windmill, and a very fine Windmill at that. So, when I just happened to be passing through the small North Island town, I couldn’t turn down the chance to see the De Molen Windmill. Still in complete working order, the De Molen is a full size 17th century replica of a Dutch flour mill. A must do if you’re passing through Foxton.