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Castlepoint Beach Races

My parents arrived yesterday and on their first full day in New Zealand we decided to head up the Wairarapa coastline to Castlepoint – just north of Wellington. It was named by Captain Cook in 1770 who was struck by the similarities of Castle Rock to the battlements of a castle.
Breathtaking Castlepoint with Castle Rock in the distance

A 2.5hr drive, passing through the Rimutaka Range (which rivals the Cabot Trail) where the road cuts along the mountain range, providing spectacular views of the valley below. As we drove through Masterton on our way to Castlepoint, we noticed a sign advertising the ‘Castlepoint Horse Races’ that just happened to be taking place today!

Dating back to the first days of European settlements in the area, the Castlepoint Horse Races attract hundreds of people to the beach to watch the jockey’s race their horse down the sand-flat track. It was a spectacular site seeing the race horses barrelling down the beach towards the finish line.They were even taking $2 bets for each race!
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The horses racing across the finish line

 

After the race we walked along the beach towards the famous Castlepoint Lighthouse situated on a  fossil-rich limestone reef. The views at the top provided a 360 degree view of the mile long beach, magnificent Castle Rock and the sheltered lagoon below.
Mom & Dad enjoying the view at Castlepoint Lighthouse

We walked along the edge of the reef, watching the waves crash below sending a mist of sea spray into the air. Dad was fascinated by all the geological formations and provided several ‘geology lessons’ on the environment around us.

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Dad admiring the fossil filled limestone reef

As the ferocious waves crashed below, you could imagine what this place would be like in a storm!

Waves crashing along the reef at Castlepoint

With the sun shining, we took our time exploring the gigantic limestone reef, taking in the views from every angle!

Jagged coastline along Castlepoint

Castle Rock in the distance was very tempting, but decided that we need to return for another weekend to explore this place ever further and attempt a summit of Castle Rock!

The sheltered lagoon with Castle Rock in the distance

As we made our way back towards the beach, the horse races continued, allowing us to catch another exciting race along the beach. A few horses even came right by us as they made their victory lap at the end of the track.

A jockey and his horse finishing the Castlepoint Beach Races

A quick walk along the sheltered sandflats, we watched the waves crash up over the reef, splashed into the protected lagoon. Jordan got a little too close with his camera when he tried to capture the water cascading down the reef, not realizing the next wave was on its way and narrowly missed being swept into the lagoon! Hard to believe this is a popular surf spot with so many jagged reefs along the beach!

Jordan with his camera watching the waves break

As we made our way back towards the carpark we took in a few last gimpses of the mile long beach and majestic lighthouse and enjoyed an icecream in the hot sun.

Mom, Dad and I enjoying a beautiful day along the beach at Castlepoint

On our way back to Wellington, we made a pit stop at the Paua Shell factory shop in Carterton where we picked up a number of Paua shell items and New Zealand souvenirs! A recommended stop for anyone looking for some beautiful gifts from New Zealand – the staff were wonderful and the prices were very reasonable!

We had an AMAZING day showing Mom and Dad a taste of New Zealand’s natural beauty 🙂

 

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