Tasman: Cape Farewell

Cape Farewell – The most northerly point of South Island. On the map (slightly rotated) it resembles a spot on the top of a kiwi’s head. Named in 1700 by Captain James Cook to mark his last glimpse of NZ as he sailed away.

Aptly named as we prepared to leave South Island. This post covers

  1. Wharariki Beach – the most beautiful beach in the world – good enough to be the Microsoft 10 Windows Image
  2. Cape Farewell Arch
  3. Farewell Spit – miles and miles of sand
  4. Pillar Point Lighthouse Track

1) Wharariki Beach Walk

A 2.8 mile out and back trail to remote Wharariki Beach. A beauty of a track through farm pasture and coastal forest onto a beach that the Māori called Onetahua – “heaped up sand”

Directions: Collingwood Main Road to the end of Wharariki Road. Walk over farmland to the beach; return along beach and track. (2 hrs)

Wharariki Beach is One of NZ’s Wonders

Up and over dunes to a SPECTACULAR coast line, desolate and wild. A posted warning urges respect for quick changing tides: “What the sea wants, the sea shall have”. Strong winds blow frequently here. The weather in June was brisk; December too windy to be pleasant “a Sahara sand storm”…but the pictures are so real I am transported. Must do…must walk…must see!

2) Continuing to Cape Farewell

Māori spirits bid farewell to their earthly connection here. One slip and so will you. The quartz sandstone archway is carved into cliffs dropping into a not-so-calm Tasman Sea. A clearly marked trail is between here and Pillar Point (and beyond).

A 656 ft. predator-proof fence was installed in 2020 creating a 6 acre sanctuary for seabirds, giant snails and geckos. NZ has a goal of predator-free by 2050 to protect creatures from stoats (weasels), rats, and possum introduced by settlers in 1840.

3) Farewell Spit

Farewell Spit is one of the world’s largest natural sand spits – about half a mile wide x 21 miles (34 km) of dunes up to 100 ft high. You can walk the first 4 miles, but beyond that access is restricted to eco-tours, as it is home to tens of thousands of seabirds (over 90 species, plus seals and penguins). A MUST DO, but unavailable during COVID lockdown.

One can always tramp. I trudged the sand and mud flats to the point where public access was restricted. It was beautiful, but bleak and exposed.

Pillar Point Lighthouse

Nearby is an easy hike with beautiful views of Farewell Spit. The howling winds made the sand storm on the spit visible from the point. Walk from here to the Cape Farewell Arch.

More Tasman Posts

The tip top of South Island is a motherlode of beauty and diversity. Too much glory for one post – see the following links:

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14 thoughts on “Tasman: Cape Farewell

  1. Oh my – I think this is one of my favorite NZ posts of yours – but how could one possibly choose between this beauty and that? Incredible beach. Just wow. My heart sings to see such magnificence. And to know you are in it. xo

  2. Your eyes have seen so many beautiful places and I am sure your soul is right there in tandem. Gorgeous photos…hard to say which ones are the best…the beaches, the cliffs, the blue/green water!??! All eye candy! Steve those hiking trails look easy peasy…nice gravel and fairly level!

  3. I’m adding Cape Farewell to the “must do” list of places to visit when we return to NZ. I love the graphic showing the comparison with the kiwi! Great photos – me thinks you were lucky to have such nice weather, especially for the ferry ride.

    1. Thank you. If I hadn’t already fallen in love with the Tasman region, this would have cemented it for sure. Love Golden Bay. There is a tramp you and Bill must do – from the beach to the arch, we only did a small part. I will come back again, too!

  4. These pictures could be postcards. Love your narration. Thanks for sharing!

  5. The photos are gorgeous! Such beauty!

    1. It is like beauty just booms out at you…all over. South Island is incredible with the Southern Alps. I wish I was younger and a real hiker.

  6. Absolutely stunning. Enjoy every minute of it

  7. Glennie Bowland July 13, 2020 — 3:04 am

    North Island — where I spent a bunch of time on our boat, Dawn’s Light. Let me know when you get to Opua and Pahia –at the top of the North Island. Be sure to go to Russell…Bay of Islands is THE most beautiful. And be sure to try Pipies…clams that we “dug” for in Whangerai and Opua. Yum! Glennie

    1. Oh, Glennie, I am so delighted to hear of the places you have been. Great boat name. Really looking forward to Russell…that will be right before we have to leave.

  8. I don’t know how the mind and soul can take in and retain all the beauty you’ve seen in the last few months.

  9. Absolutely beautiful…what an adventure!

    1. South Island is like The Rockies on mega mega steroids. All of NZ is the same size and population count as Colorado

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