The Wairarapa coast is rugged, remote and sparsely populated. A trip to the landmark Cape Palliser lighthouse is a must-do if you can spare the time and have your own wheels. From Martinborough, the road wends through picturesque farmland before hitting the coast. This section of the drive is impossibly scenic, hugging the coast between wild ocean on one side and sheer cliffs on the other. Look for shadows of the South Island, visible on a clear day.
As you approach Cape Palliser (Matakitakiakupe) you'll reach the wind-worn fishing village of Ngawi. The first things you’ll notice here are the rusty bulldozers on the beach, used to drag fishing boats ashore.
On the way there or back, take a short detour to the crusty waterside settlement of Lake Ferry, overlooking Lake Onoke. The lake empties directly to the sea through grey, shingled dunes, with big black-backed gulls circling overhead.