Wairarapa – from the forest to the sea

Nina Mercer —  16/04/2015

Good weather over the Easter weekend gave us the opportunity to explore more of New Zealand’s beautiful outdoors, so away we headed with the caravan.

Campsite and cricket pitch at Holdsworth Conservation campsite.

A spacious campsite and cricket pitch at Holdsworth Conservation campsite.

Our campsite for the weekend was Holdsworth Campsite at the end of Holdsworth Road, in the foothills of the Tararua Forest Park. And while we were there to enjoy the river and forest, we were also able to use it as a base for a day trip to the well-known Castlepoint.

A sidetrack on an adventure at Holdsworth campsite.

Side tracks add to the adventure

The carpark at Holdsworth was full to the brim with day-trippers and overnight trampers, but we managed to find a space for the caravan with enough grass out front to play ‘bat down’ cricket with the kids.

An inquisitive karearea took a chance and swooped down to investigate the game, swishing only a meter or so over one of the boy’s heads.

Clambering along banks at Holdsworth campsite.

A bit of a clamber

We ventured off for an afternoon bushwalk, which involved clambering down banks to the river, exploring side tracks through the bush, and piling rocks into cairns on the riverbank. Kids love adventure!

The Mercer children stopping by the river.

Lots of lovely spots to stop by the river

With the wind dying down the next day it was a great chance to head to Castlepoint, about 45 minutes drive from Masterton.

There are a couple of great DOC walks to choose from, the ‘must do’ being the walk up to the lighthouse. It is a wide paved track that you can get a buggy up, but I wouldn’t recommend doing that on a windy day!

From the lighthouse there are more steps to a great lookout higher up.

Castlepoint lighthouse.

Castlepoint lighthouse

The other track is an attractive hour and a half loop that travels across farmland before dropping down into Deliverance Cove.

We chose the Lighthouse Walk with its stunning views out along the coast and Castlepoint village, awesome sandstone plateaus dropping straight down into the churning ocean.

Near the top of the Lighthouse Walk.

The track to the lighthouse is very family and buggy friendly

The next activity was a spot of fishing in the cove, where we were sheltered by the rocky ridge separating the cove from the open sea.

Deliverance Cove was named by William Colenso when, after days of travelling in stormy weather trying to cross Cook Strait, Colenso and his party found the gap into the small cove and thus ‘deliverance’ from the rough seas.

Fishing at Deliverance Cove, Castlepoint.

A spot of fishing.

No luck was had with the fishing, but it was fun none the less. So, after fish and chips on the beach there was time to climb the high sand hills before a quick (and cold) wash off in the sea.

Climbing the steep sand hills.

Great fun on the steep sandy slopes

Then we headed back to Holdsworth for another evening of bat down and Yahtzee, listening to the ruru cooing into the night.

Nina Mercer


Nina is a Partnerships Ranger based in Palmerston North who has worked in conservation for more than twenty years. She has a passion for our natural environment and loves exploring the outdoors, especially with her family.