73. Wairarapa Safari – Ngawi

After 3 nights at windswept Tora it was back to Martinborough for supplies and then to Ngawi, a tiny fishing village at the south eastern corner of Palliser Bay right down at the southern tip of the north island.

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We were all camped in an open paddock close to the beach and the wind was so strong for the whole of our stay that most caravans/motorhomes left a day early.

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We did not attempt to climb the steps to Cape Palliser Lighthouse, we would’ve been blown away……

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……. but we did visit the nearby large seal colony twice. It was wonderful to be able to get so close and I could have spent hours sitting there watching the young seals playing unconcernedly although the adult seals were aware of our presence.

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A mob of surfie seals were riding the waves, waiting for the big one ….  IMG_8794

At other times of the year penguins are a road hazard.

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Ngawi is an extraordinary place with a large number of rusting bulldozers all lined up along one side of the main street which is also the beach front. It’s said there are more bulldozers per head of population than anywhere else.

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Apparently there is no more fishing this season, the quota for paua, crayfish and cod has been reached. Anyone want to buy a fishing boat, bulldozer and boat cradle? Elsewhere we have seen old tractors being used, but at Ngawi ithas to be bulldozers apparently, as there is no wharf and the beach can be very rough as well as steep.

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The dark grey shaley sand was very clean apart from multi-coloured seaweed. The reds and greens of the sea lettuce were such an enticing and realistic green.

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Ngawi has also had its share of shipwrecks. The best known is probably the 1116 ton iron-hulled Zuleika which foundered on Good Friday April 16 1897. Eight of the drowned crew were buried in a single grave now marked by a memorial which also notes the deaths of another 4. Of the 21 men on board 10 including the Captain survived. There is an excellent newspaper article about the wreck in the Evening Post of 21 April 1897, which can be found at www.paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/

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Another notable wreck was the Ben Avon which ran aground on 11 November 1903. She sailed straight in during the night in thick weather. The pilot died (from shock?) but the Captain and crew managed to get into a lifeboat and landed seven miles away from the wreck.  On the 13th November the Ben Avon was still upright, sails flapping idly in the wind, her holds full of water. She broke up soon after. (http://www.divenewzealand.com/index.asp?s1=diving&s2=lower%20north%20island&id=76)  The Captain was severely castigated in a court of enquiry – he should not have put all trust in the pilot – but was allowed to keep his certificate.

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This is the cove where it happened.

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