A day trip from Wellington
During my first week in Wellington, we took a short day trip outside of the city to check out Lake Ferry, the Putanginia Pinnacles (rock formation), and Cape Palliser (seal hangout, a.k.a. Matakitakiakupe).
This drive was an immediate flashback to the northern coasts of the United States. Lighthouses, strong winds, and the icy cold waves crashing into the charcoal-covered rocks kept me reminding myself that I was, in fact, over 8,000 miles away from any previous experience with this kind of terrain. We parked in a small parking lot near the Pinnacles and took a hike directly uphill to get to a small lookout offering a birds-eye view of the Pinnacles. They looked awfully eerie, and reminded me of the creepy rocks I found in Sagada, Philippines. These ominous formations were home to “hanging coffins” – a tradition of hanging coffins (and their contents) inside of small caves in the rocks, parallel to each other.
We descended the small mountain and hiked up a dry riverway directly into the Pinnacles. It was cool to see them up close – so fragile and temporary. The rocks are constructed from the sediment flying out from the ocean via the insanely strong winds there. A simple touch can cause pebbles as well as large chunks of rock to come crumbling down – not exactly bouldering territory.
We then headed over to Cape Palliser – home to a very high lighthouse and hundreds of seals. We immediately started climbing the rocks, searching for baby seals, momma seals, and the enormous, temperamental, ready-to-brawl daddy seals. We found a few baby seals hiding underneath a rock who eventually wandered out from their shelter to explore their area and investigate the strangers staring at them. Right before we left, Dani and I stood only a couple feet away from an intense seal battle, a little bit afraid that both seals would suddenly turn on us. Even though they are large, floppy, seemingly obese creatures, they can move suprisingly quickly!
We enjoyed climbing the sharp, black, rocks – they had easy hand holds and provided cool views of the water as well as the wildlife. We were constantly battling wind, however, which almost blew me off the rock more than a few times.
Seeking refuge from the wind in our van (“Allen”), we headed back home on a leisurely drive, stopping for random pictures, oo-ing and awe-ing along the way. This country is beautiful.