Wharariki Beach

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Wharariki Beach

If you ever find yourself in the northern reaches of New Zealand's South Island, a wee mooch over to Wharariki Beach is an adventure not to be missed. A stone's throw west of cape farewell, the most northerly point of the South Island, this beach will linger in your memory for many years to come.

Dominated by colossal rock formations in the shallows of the Tasman Sea, Wharariki has an apocalyptic feel and is blissfully undeveloped. Accessed only on foot via hilltops and pearly white sand dunes this is a land that time forgot.

Upon descending into the remote cove the first thing vying for your attention are the monolithic archway islands majestically protruding from the bay. Continue along to the end of the beach to discover some local seafaring critters playfully oblivious to your presence.

Photographing Wharariki Beach

Low tide is probably the best time for Wharariki. If the ethereal water reflections of the Archway Islands aren't enough to blow your mind, then the frolicking seal pups surely will. If time permits, be sure to hang around until dusk when the changing light wondrously transforms the scene.

The pathways to landscape photography utopia are numerous here. The hike to Farewell Spit alone will keep you occupied for at least a few hours. Throw in the Puponga Hill Top Track (3 -5 hrs) and there's enough in this corner of Te Waipounamu to keep you busier than a one-armed paper hanger with winnits.

A little south of Wharariki, the Kahurangi National Park is home to vast swathes of untracked wilderness. Elsewhere, a network of tracks will take you to high plateaux, wild rivers, alpine herb fields and coastal forests.

Completely Useless Facts about Wharariki Beach

  • An image of The Archway Islands was used as wallpaper for the Windows 10 operating system.
  • Cape Farewell was named by Captain Cook. It was the last land he laid eyes on when sailing back home in 1770.
  • The Kahurangi is New Zealand's second-largest national park, after Fiordland.

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