In times past the view up Queen Charlotte Sound would have been to spot the advance of enemies. Today we can appreciate it for the aesthetics. A walk around the fortified site casts the imagination back.
7.5 km from Picton and 3 km beyond Waikawa along Port Underwood Road, Karaka Point Historic Reserve is signposted on the left. There’s a parking area just below the road.
The even metalled track passes a toilet then the remains of the defensive ditch and earthworks associated with the food storage pits and dwellings. The track concludes at a grassy area and beach with bench looking straight up Queen Charlotte Sound.
Te-Rae-o-Te-Karaka was the original name for the pa, after Te Karaka, a Ngati Mamoe chief in the early 1700s. Unsurprisingly this headland was contested territory and many battles were fought to secure the strategic location. Ngai Tahu consumed the headland into their control around 1720. Rangitane subsequently took over and were attacked by Te Atiawa with muskets in a bloody battle.
Surrounded by steep cliffs and water, the only entry point was via land. The headland was once fortified using the ditch as the first line of defence. A high palisade fence would have allowed warriors to hurl spears and other weapons against marauders, keeping the villagers and food safe.
Food storage pits were the larder, keeping dried and preserved food. They were likely covered with a pitched roof thatched with ferns, bark and leaves.
South Island ▷ Marlborough ▷ Picton / Marlborough Sounds
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Thanks to all the good people working for the NZ Department of Conservation - for all your hard work - making NZ more beautiful, accessable and healthy! Cheers 😍