A wild walk to Wharariki Beach South Island, NZ

If it’s one of those days when you just need to blow the cobwebs away with a coastal walk, we know just the place.  West of Cape Farewell, and almost as far north as you can get on South Island, Wharariki Beach is remote, beautiful and above all, windswept.

Wharariki Beach South Island
Wharariki Beach by Murray Foubister via Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

Wharariki Beach South Island, New Zealand – A Photographers Dream Location

To reach Wharariki takes a bit of effort.  First from Nelson, you’ll have to drive around Golden Bay, and a few kilometres past Puponga. Then you’ll need to walk the last stretch along a farm track for half an hour or so.  After this gentle climb past the sheep you’ll reach a stand of manuka trees.  You’ll soon know whether the beach is going to be windy as those trees will crackle like an old lady’s arthritic knees if the air’s moving.

Wharariki Beach South Island
Wharariki Beach area by Murray Foubister via Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

Time your visit for early in the day. Then you’ll reduce the likelihood of your face being sandblasted once you reach the Wharariki Beach South Island.  Time your visit to coincide with low tide and you’ll be able to enjoy a walk along the length of that beach as well.  It’s an easy ramble. At this time of year – March to May – you’ve a better chance of seeing seals in the rock pools, too.  This isn’t a beach that entices swimmers into the waves – far too dangerous – but the soft sand is easy on the feet nevertheless.  It’s possible to walk up and over the hill to Farewell Spit, though you’d have to drag yourself off one of the country’s most stunning beaches to do so.

Wharariki Beach South Island
Wharariki Beach by Murray Foubister via Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

Photographer’s Favourite

Surprisingly, given the gales, cliffs guard the Wharariki Beach South Island. Unsurprisingly, the waves have sculpted a plethora of arches and caves with the patience of thousands of years.  Sand dunes add yet more drama and it’s no surprise to learn that this is a photographer’s favourite. Albeit photographers armed with plastic bags and well-fitting lens caps to stave off nature’s attack on their cameras.

Archway Islands off Wharariki Beach South Island
Archway Islands off Wharariki Beach by MurielBendel via Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0

Those cameras often point at the Archway Islands.  Those four stacks will be familiar to anyone who’s purchased a calendar of New Zealand’s favourite coastal landscapes.  This cluster of rocks might be small, but you could argue they are perfectly formed.  Whether snapped as a backdrop to the dune grasses or reflected in the water on a still day – yes it does happen – it will be the kind of photo you’ll want to see on your wall when you get home from your trip.

Wharariki Beach South Island and Archway Islands
Wharariki Beach and Archway Islands (public domain)

About JuliaHammond

Website: http://www.juliahammond.co.uk

Julia Hammond is a Geography teacher turned travel writer with a passion for places. Winning Mail Travel's Deep South competition was the catalyst to write for a diverse range of publications including Bradt's Bus Pass Britain Rides Again. She’s written Kindle guides to Cape Town, Peru and London for Unanchor and advice on Savannah for Wanderlust. When not travelling, she can be found at home in Essex planning her next trip, her two golden retrievers curled up at her feet.

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