1. It might be in the wop wops but it's worth the trip
Roughly an hour east of Masterton with nothing in between apart from a couple of tiny settlements, you could be forgiven for thinking Castlepoint is right out in the sticks - it is! But the roads to get there are scenic and not too windy and you'll be there before you know it.
There is one hilarious point on the road though where a washout (clearly some time ago) has taken out most of one side of the road - instead of fixing it they've just made the road one lane and redone all the lines with a fence in the middle of the road - it's kinda kooky and it made us laugh - I wish I had taken a photo of it. Only in rural NZ right!
2. Is it Castlepoint or Castle Point?
Talk about confusing. I've seen both used and got myself in a bit of a pickle trying to determine whether I should be referring to it as two words or one. But here's the official lowdown: Castlepoint - the town - is actually one word. Castle Point - the actual point where the lighthouse is - that's two words. So, now aren't you happy that I've cleared that up....
3. Expect an amazing sunset and sunrise
You can generally bank on a coastal settlement being a good spot to capture the beginning and end of day. Of course this is entirely weather dependent but as long as it's not pouring with rain I don't think you could be disappointed. Not when you have the opportunity to stand on the top of a cliff with 360 degree panoramic views around you!
4. It has a long and rich history
Castlepoint was named by Captain Cook all the way back in 1770 - when he saw Castle Rock for the first time, he likened it to the battlements of a castle. The rock does jut out quite spectacularly from the surrounding hillside and there's also a walk you can take to the top which we didn't quite have time for on this occasion much to Noah's chagrin.
5. It's pretty special seeing a working lighthouse up close and personal
The Castle Point Lighthouse was built in 1913 (that's 100 years ago!) and was originally fuelled by oil. This was replaced with electricity and connected into the national power grid in 1961. Then in 1988 the lighthouse became fully automated and is now operated by remote control from Wellington by Maritime NZ. In its day, it was said to be a popular location for lighthouse keepers because unlike many other remote lighthouses around the country, this one was within easy access of the Castlepoint settlement so you could just pop down to the local store within minutes.
On our hike up to the lighthouse, it was light enough already by 7am not to need any torches to guide us up the path to the lighthouse. Noah had decided he didn't want to come up to the top of the wooden staircase and adamantly stayed put down at the lighthouse to begin with. That was until we told him we could see the bright beams of the lighthouse shining right in our faces as it beamed its light 3 times every 30 seconds warning ships up and down the coastline to a range of 50 kilometres. Then he was up the stairs quicker than you could say 'bright light bright light!'.
6. You'll enjoy it more if you bring a friend
Some moments are just better shared. I managed to convince the whole family that they should come up to the lighthouse with me to watch the sunrise. At this time of the year the sun isn't appearing until somewhere between 7.30-8am so it's not too much of an effort to do so - especially when you have kids who are mostly up and raring to go by 6am every day anyway.
This was the first time they'd ever seen the sun bursting over the horizon in all its glory and I hope it's a memory they'll remember for a long time.
7. Hold onto your technology and pack a spare battery
It can get pretty windy up at the lighthouse. Mark was taking some video on his little waterproof camera and had it balanced on the edge of the wooden bannister when whoosh! a gust of wind knocked it off down the hillside and he had to go and retrieve it. Thankfully it's a pretty well designed piece of gear and it was none the worse for wear. I made sure I kept a firm grip on my tripod while taking all my shots after that!
It's pretty hard not to go snap happy - I think in all I probably took close to 500 photos during the weekend, and of those maybe 1 in 10 has made it onto this post and the other post, Moody Skies at Castlepoint. So you might find yourself running out of battery if you don't pack a spare one - which might even be a good thing when you're starving, it's nearly 9am and you STILL haven't stopped to have breakfast!
9. The beach is a great place to let off some steam
After packing up our things, we all came back down to the beach for one last walk, making the most of the wide expanse of sand in the bay to throw a Frisbee and kick a football enjoying the stunning scenery on the walk towards Castle Rock.
10. Did you see a baboon or is that just me? Use your imagination.
The rocky outcrops really do take on a life of their own. If you use your imagination I'm sure you can come up with a number of different possibilities for what these rocks might look like. What do you see?
Watching the waves crashing over the reef is also a spectacular sight and one that you won't get tired of.
10. Revel in the reflections
If you take the time and really open your eyes, you are bound to find plenty of opportunities to capture some stunning reflections in the tide.
So there you have it. 10 things you needed to know about Castlepoint and of course I now have to ask - have I convinced you to make the trip?!