Hanging out at Castlepoint

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Stick figures being drowned by
tsunamis at Castlepoint Beach.

For some reason this Easter weekend, many people we know have been visiting Castlepoint. This included my manager (at work), a couple of Stacey’s friends, and Amelia. Considering Castlepoint is such a small place, I was a bit surprised that we didn’t actually meet any of them, except for Amelia, but that was because she and her family had very nicely invited us to come up and see her family’s beach house. (The full set of photos that I’ve uploaded are over here.)

We turned up at about 3pm after a short lunch stop at Carterton’s kebab restaurant from heaven (AKA Istanbul), all the time keeping an eye on the dark clouds banked up behind the Tararuas. After dodging the Easter tourists along Jetty Road at Castlepoint, we found Amelia’s family, quickly settled in, and went out for a short walk towards Castle Rock. Amelia’s dad took me for a wander up to the top for a look (a 15 minute diversion), while the rest went straight down to the beach. Castle Rock is a 162 metre high giant rock that hangs out over the coast, and looking over the top is basically looking down 162 metres of cliff-face to the sea. It’s not something to lean over the edge of lightly either, because DOC hasn’t yet spoiled it with any kind of handrail (hooray!) and the wind at Castlepoint can be extreme and sometimes gusty, especially in such an exposed place. Fortunately on this day, though, the wind was unusually low.

This is about the third time I’ve been to Castlepoint, and every time it’s appeared more populated. I’m told it’s still dead for most of the year and I might check that out in the near future because it’s a nice place, but this weekend was probably quite overrun because of the whole Easter thing, and that would have been evident with the number of vehicles driving along the beach. We went for a short walk back along the beach, watching painfully as some of the drivers zoomed past at rates that were far too uncontrollable to be able to stop on that surface if any of the children had turned around at the wrong time without noticing, and then wandered back for what was a very nice barbecue dinner.

It was very windy overnight, but calmed down in the morning with a bit of a southerly change. Amelia had mentioned that we really had to get up for the sunrise early in the morning, but by 6.30am I seemed to be the only person willing to drag myself out of bed. I’d been expecting the coast to be crawling with people at sunrise considering the relatively calm weather, but there were actually very few people around. Most sunset and sunrise photos look very similar to me so I don’t usually focus on them, and usually when I have a camera out at sunrise or sunset, it’s to take photos of a hundred people all crammed into a tiny lookout point, pointing their cameras in the same direction. (eg. This one was a Peruvian sunset on the tourist trail.)

I find the people who photograph the sun are often much more amusing, but this time there actually wasn’t much to do but watch the sunrise, though, and it was worth it. During the entire hour I saw one person jogging, one person walking their dogs, a person fishing off the reef below the lighthouse in the distance, and someone else performing some kind of sunrise worshipping ritual in the distance — the fact that it was Easter Saturday could have had something to do with this.

In any case after a walk around the beach and the lighthouse, I was back in an hour or so to find people just beginning to get up. Amelia, Stacey and I went for another wander out around the lighthouse later in the morning, which by now was crawling with quite a few more people, keeping an eye on the clouds coming in from the south. They never quite reached us, however.

Anyway, that was our brief getaway from Wellington for easter. It would have been nice to go for a bit longer but we’ve had a few things we have to get sorted out back home, so that’ll have to wait until another weekend, perhaps.

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