GUIDE TO CASTLEPOINT LIGHTHOUSE PHOTOGRAPHY IN THE WAIRARAPA NZ
Castlepoint Lighthouse, the iconic landmark standing proud along the rugged Wairarapa coast of New Zealand is a magnet for any landscape photographer who wants to capture one of the most beautiful lighthouses in New Zealand.
With its stunning coastal landscape, rugged cliffs, and the iconic lighthouse standing tall against the dramatic coastal backdrop, Castlepoint offers endless opportunities for capturing that incredible photograph for your New Zealand portfolio.
A very popular spot for kiwi holidaymakers during the summer, visiting Castlepoint is like taking a trip back in time to when old baches along the coast were everywhere, the fish and chip shop was the only place to get a meal and tractors on the beach were the equivalent of beach carparks.
In this Guide to Castlepoint Lighthouse Photography, I provide you with tips and recommendations to help you make the most of your photography experience at Castlepoint and the surrounding area.
GUIDE TO CASTLEPOINT LIGHTHOUSE PHOTOGRAPHY
CASTLEPOINT LIGHTHOUSE HISTORY
A little bit of history behind this historic testament to New Zealand's maritime heritage. With over a century of service, Castlepoint Lighthouse has played a vital role in guiding ships through the waters of the Wairarapa Coastline.
Constructed in 1913 and designed by engineer John Blackett, the Castlepoint Lighthouse octagonal tower stands tall, serving as a beacon for ships navigating the area. For decades, dedicated lighthouse keepers resided on site, but with the advancement of technology, the lighthouse underwent automation in 1988. However this didn't take away from its historical significance and charm and continues to fascinate visitors who come to admire this iconic landmark of New Zealand.
GETTING TO CASTLEPOINT LIGHTHOUSE WAIRARAPA
Castlepoint Lighthouse is located on the Wairarapa coastline on the lower eastern side of the North Island in New Zealand and about two and a half hours drive from Wellington.
From Wellington you will follow SH2 and once you reach Masterton you will then proceed on to Castlepoint Road. Follow that road for about 58 kilometers until you reach Castlepoint. As you approach Castlepoint, you will see signs directing you towards the lighthouse.
Once at the Castlepoint Lighthouse car park and viewing area you can follow the marked walking trail that will lead you to the lighthouse.
Note: There are limited services for gas/petrol filling so it is a good idea to fill up the car in Masterton.
Castlepoint offers limited accommodation options, but there are some choices available for visitors looking to stay in the area.
Freedom camping is available at the Castlepoint Lighthouse car park for fully self contained vehicles.
Castlepoint Holiday Park offers a range of accommodation options including cabins, tent sites, and powered caravan sites
Options on AirBnB and Book-a-Bach
WHAT CAMERA GEAR TO TAKE
Castlepoint has so much to offer when it comes to landscape photography so taking the full camera kit is a must! There are beautiful wide angle shots to be taken at Castlepoint Lighthouse and if you're going to climb Castle Rock you can get some great compressed images of the lighthouse from up there.
I took the following gear on my two trips to Castlepoint:
ND Filters (for long exposure and slow shutter wave images)
Tripod (low light conditions at sunrise and sunset)
Wide Angle Lens (eg. 16-35mm lens or mid range 24-70mm) for landscape images
Zoom Lens (eg. 70-200mm) for compressed and closer shots
CASTLEPOINT LIGHTHOUSE PHOTO LOCATIONS
CASTLEPOINT LIGHTHOUSE WALK
The Castlepoint Lighthouse walk provides some amazing opportunities for landscape and wildlife (watch out for those angry seals) photography, allowing you to capture the stunning coastal landscapes and the iconic lighthouse itself.
I have found that the best golden hour conditions for my images from Castlepoint were at sunrise. With the sun rising from the oceans horizon it creates beautiful light on the rugged coastal landscape and the lighthouse giving it the most beautiful colours.
There are countless compositions available along the Castlepoint Lighthouse walk and it's a great place to explore and use your camera from all angles.
There are some beautiful seascape and reflection shots to be had from the beach at Castlepoint during the mid tide.
If you're planning on doing the Deliverance Cove Track (below) on the way to start of the walk you can look for reflections on the wet sand or shallow tidal pools. These reflections can add depth and visual interest to your photos. I was able to photograph Castle Rock beautifully reflecting on the sand as we walked to the track.
You can also snap photos of the lighthouse on the reflecting sand just in front of the Castlepoint Lighthouse walk if the tide allows.
DELIVERANCE COVE TRACK (CASTLE ROCK SUMMIT)
For a spectacular view over Castlepoint Beach including the lighthouse the track up to Castle Rock is an absolute must do. Forming part of the Deliverance Cove Track, the track is rated an easy walk but getting up to this view point is a little precarious. DOC advises that access to the top of Castle Rock is not recommended as it is unsafe, and I do have to admit that it was a little scary being up there. The drop off below Castle Rock is just that, a huge drop into the ocean. The path is also very skinny, can be slippery and climbing over some rocks is required.
Having said that it is absolutely doable if you aren't too scared of heights and have good fitness.
To get to the look out walk south along the beach and follow the track up through coastal grassland to the saddle. Once at the saddle you will see a skinny path to your left (when looking up from the beach), follow that until the reach the top of Castle Rock.
BEWARE: we encountered some very angry seals at the base of the path on the beach and hiding in the flax bushes (they like to snooze in the bushes). If the seals are around, enter at your own risk!
CASTLEPOINT LIGHTHOUSE SUMMARY INFO
Getting there: From Wellington follow SH2 and once you reach Masterton proceed on to Castlepoint Road. Follow that road for about 58 kilometers until you reach Castlepoint. As you approach Castlepoint, you will see signs directing you towards the lighthouse.
Once at the Castlepoint Lighthouse car park follow the marked walking trail that will lead you to the lighthouse.
Facilities: Public toilets and overnight camping for self contained vehicles
Walking the track: The easy 30 minute return walk out to Castlepoint Lighthouse starts from the carpark. There are lots of viewpoints of the lighthouse and surrounding coast from the track.
The Deliverance Cove track to the Castle Rock summit is a lot steeper and requires a good level of fitness.
Photography options: Castlepoint Lighthouse Walk, Castlepoint Beach and Castle Rock Summit (off the Deliverance Cove Track). Take your wide angle lens, zoom lens, tripod and ND Filters if you have them.
Best time to photograph: If you can arrange it, try get there at sunrise for the best beautiful golden light.
Castlepoint Lighthouse Live Cam: Check out the live cam for realtime conditions at Castlepoint.
I hope this info helps you plan out your next trip to Castlepoint for that perfect Castlepoint Lighthouse photo!
If you are interested in prints of any of the New Zealand Landscape Photography seen in this blog, please feel free to head on over to my New Zealand Photography Print Store and have a little look around.