Castlepoint & Pūkaha National Wildlife Centre

Two highlights of the Wairarapa, the stunning scenery of Castlepoint, and native animals and bush at Pūkaha National Wildlife Centre.

Castlepoint was named in 1770 by Captain Cook. It’s home to a small coastal community and is an understandably popular holiday spot, with a stunning beach and views of the famous Castlepoint Lighthouse, built in 1913.

Around from the beach there were a surprising number of sizeable fishing boats parked up.

There’s a good loop walk around the headland. The lighthouse was one of the last manned in New Zealand, it was fully automated in 1988.

The views from the end of the headland are quite stunning.

Pūkaha National Wildlife Centre was established in 1962 to breed and release endangered native birds.

I was expecting something similar to Wellington’s Zealandia, but instead found many of the birds inside large aviaries. A highlight for me was getting up close to a rare Kōkako / Blue Wattled Crow, with distinctive blue wattles.

There’s a purpose built house for kiwis, which also included some colourful native geckos.

The site is 55 hectares so there is plenty to explore for those with time.

To finish with a couple more sights near Pūkaha National Wildlife Centre, starting with the Middleton Model Railway & Model Shop. Housed in a purpose built shed, this is one of the largest model railways in New Zealand, though I think there is a touch of quantity over quality of the modelling. It’s still worth a visit for anyone with an interest in modelling, railways, or something a bit different.

Hastwell Cemetery is a typical small rural cemetery, still in use.

Author: jontycrane

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