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. It was named in 1700 by Captain James Cook to mark the last glimpse of NZ as he sailed away.
Cape Farewell was our grand finale to Golden Bay, Able Tasman and South Island. We drove north to Collingwood and checked out Wharariki Beach, the arch, and Farewell Spit.
Wharariki Beach Walk
We followed a track through farm pasture and coastal forest emerging onto a beach that the Māori called onetahua – “heaped up sand”.
Up and over dunes to a SPECTACULAR coast line, desolate and wild. A posted warning urged respect for quick changing tides: “What the sea wants, the sea shall have”. Wharariki Beach is one of NZ’s wonders.
Cape Farewell Arch
For Māori, this is a place from where spirits bid farewell to their earthly connection. One slip and so will you. The archway is carved into quartz sandstone cliffs dropping into a not-so-calm Tasman Sea.
Eco Sanctuary – In January, 2020, a 200 meter (656 ft) predator-proof fence was installed creating a 2.5 hectare (6.1 acres) 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.
Farewell Spit is about half a mile wide and 34km (21 mi) long with sand dunes up to 100 ft high. One of the longest natural sand-spits in the world and home to tens of thousands of seabirds. Access is restricted to eco-tours – a MUST DO, but unavailable to us due to COVID lockdown policies.
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.
Marlborough Sound and Cook Strait
Sad to leave the Tasman region, but pacified by the drive to Marlborough Sounds…stupendous with every curve and hill. Grateful for 4 months on South Island, including 7 weeks of lockdown.
Road to Picton
Pelorus River Bridge – Wine Barrel Scene in “The Hobbit”
Marlborough Sounds – Queen Charlotte Scenic Drive
InterIslander Ferry – A smooth crossing to North Island
Cook Strait – Open water to Wellington, North Island
Next: North Island – lesser mountains, more people, and 4 more months