Sunday, 15 January 2017

Beach Hop South- Ngawi- Part 2; Lighthouse & Seals

Catch-up, we're still in the Catlins and enjoying every minute, the wildlife encounters have been amazing, I can't wait to bring them to you. Although the weather leaves a lot to be desired (the story of our lives recently) but I have heard it is similar right around New Zealand except for a couple of hot(literally) spots- Hawkes Bay & Northland- funnily enough both where my family live! We've also been out of internet reception for a few days hence the delay in posting this blog.

Continuing on from Part 1

One of our first tasks after settling in at Ngawi was to visit the lighthouse at Cape Palliser, a further 5kms past Ngawi and through the small coastal settlement of Mangatoetoe. The old Lighthouse keeper's house sits at the bottom...

...of an impressive flights of steps...

...which we have to climb to take in the views.

All two hundred and fifty three (253) steps; one foot in front of the other, slowly, slowly does it, hold onto the rail, don't stumble, feel the pain. It helps to carry a camera, stopping to take photos on the way up provides a good cover to catch your breath.

This grand old lady is built of cast iron and has stood on the cliffs here since 1897 and she is still shining strong.

Lighthouse details are on the shed at the base of the steps- don't forget to click on the photo to enlarge.

The 180 degree views are spectacular even on a dull overcast day- looking north...

...and south. We stay for 10-15 minutes soaking in the views and encouraging other stair climbers as they falter near the top.

And then it's time to head back down...just as slowly and just as painfully.

Someone with a sense of humour owns this bach (we're in the North Island, so they are baches not cribs), you can see it in the photo looking south from the lighthouse above; it's on the shoreline between the road and the water. Perhaps there are a few frosts on the coast in the dead of winter but falling ice? I'm sure the last time there would have been ice here was during the last ice age. And the mannequin in the window is classic Mum. Those that know my mother will understand.

This huge slab of sandstone rock near Mangatoetoe was thrust up by an earthquake a very long time ago (imagine if that had happened at Kaikoua!). It's called Kupe's Sail after the shape of the sail on the Polynesian explorer's canoe.

This is the south side of Kupe's Sail, taken on a different day when I went to visit the seal colony.

The same day I shot this photo of the lighthouse- what a difference a bit of sun, some puffy white clouds and a bit of blue sky make.

Just before the lighthouse, amongst a particularly rocky part of the coastline, lives North Island's largest colony of NZ Fur Seals/Kekeno. Look carefully, they are very well disguised.

And in amongst the rocks is a large saltwater pool which acts as a creche at this time of the year, for some very cute seal pups (similar to Ohau Stream near Kaikoura). The pups are able to safely swim and play while their mothers are away feeding at sea; they can be gone for three days or more before they return to their hungry pups.

This little guy is patiently waiting for his mum's return.

Mothers, pups, a few males and other non-breeding seals also relax amongst the rocks. Some are blissfully unaware of me, others take no notice as I carefully rock hop around the outskirts of the colony. 

Others carefully watch as I pass by. They also watch for aggressive males who are on the prowl looking at building up their harem or fighting other bulls in the area. Occasionally, I frighten both myself and the seal as I come across a few that have removed themselves further away from the colony (look at that expression on the pup's face)

In amongst it all there are quite a number of nursing mums and fat healthy pups feeding. This little guy had a go on every nipple (4) before lolling back in the warm sun to fall asleep. I was amazed at the noise the pups make while nursing; extremely loud slurps.

Later on, when I passed back by this pair, the pup was well and truly in the land of nod.

Other than keeping an eye out for the occasional bull seal who crashes the party, there's nothing much to do but snooze in the sun.

And if mum's not there to keep an eye out for you then the safest place for little ones is back in the paddling pool with your friends...

Learning to fly?...

Or having a good scratch-  'Poster Pup' (or was that poser pup)...

'Ooooohhhhhh.........that's hit the spot, it's feels sooooo good'

This little pup has climbed up high and found a place in the sun...

Everyone is on snooze time today. Seals own snoozing.

'Bye, bye Shellie' (seals lift their flipper in the air to cool down; it directs the breeze down onto them)

Ngawi continued...Part 3


  1. Shellie, that has brought back so many memories of my childhood. My family had a bach to the left of the light house keepers house (when looking from the sea). We used to go up the steps nearly everyday and then up inside the lighthouse, with the keeper while he pulled the curtains and made sure the glass was clean. No seals then though, as we used to play in the rockpools and Dad would get Paua and crays! That was about .....60 to 65 years ago!!

    1. Hi there, thanks so much for commenting and I'm glad you enjoy reminiscing. How cool was that, going up inside the lighthouse and pulling the curtains. Reminds me of the Goodnight Kiwi! :)

  2. Wonderful story and pictorial record of this unique and beautiful part of NZ.We are heading off today after three wonderful nights at Ngawi (POP 2909) The wind has been a bit of a pain and stopped the climb to the lighthouse this trip, but will be back in May to have another go.

    1. Glad you enjoyed the blog Chris, it's a great part of the country and I can see why you enjoy it so much, especially the POP, it's a real gem.


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