Wharariki Beach, New Zealand


One of the best ever beaches for exploring that I’ve found anywhere. Wharariki Beach is near the far northwest point of New Zealand’s South Island. After driving 153 Km winding miles from Nelson, over the Takaka Hills, and further along the coast of Golden Bay, you eventually run out of paved road. Carry on for at least 6 more Kilometers of gravel road, past the turn off for Cape Farewell, and you’ll arrive at the parking area. Now its a 20-30 minute hilly hike through sheep country, back dune forests and then deep sand.

And it is worth it. Wharariki Beach is totally undeveloped. There are 4 Archway Islands barely offshore from this extensive beach. Just a few sunbathers/swimmers, and all forms of coastal exploration available from caves and arches, through fascinating conglomerate rock layers, to baby (and adult) seals, not to mention pure white sand dunes, and native forest on the back dunes. The wind blows in from the Tasman Sea which means no bugs. The place is brilliant.

Archway Islands

The south end of the beach is a maze of arches and caves. You have to be careful when the tide is coming in, like here.
These 2 Islands are the stars of the Beach. Massive with arches as well. I couldn’t stop from taking pics.
The shoreline rocks are pitted with some large caves. Cool refuges on a hot day.
When we were there, the largest cave was being used by a ballroom dancing group. Perhaps an incongruous site for the activity, but they were enjoying their Sunday far from the crowds.
The dunes are pure white and towering.
Local seal. Long lens kept me far enough away to be non-intrusive.
Large shoreline Arch. Had to do the limbo through a smaller arch on the extreme right to get beyond to rock pools. (Watercolor treatment via Topaz Studio.)
The wind doesn’t stop often here. These back dune trees show some effects of that.
Walking back was hot and steep. in some parts the trees shaded the trail.
Then open trail across the Department of Conservation-run Puponga farm. The terrain is dramatic.

9 thoughts on “Wharariki Beach, New Zealand

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