I don’t often have favourite spots. That’s because there are too many beautiful places around, especially in New Zealand. They are all my favourites and I prefer to share them all so they get the love they deserve. Wharariki beach though, is definitely my favourite New Zealand beach.
That could possibly be because I am more a mountain than a beach girl and because I just haven’t visited enough beaches around New Zealand, but a fact is a fact and Wharariki beach is my number one.
I’ve visited Wharariki three times in the last two years, and I highly recommend you visiting it too.
Why Wharariki Beach?
Good question. There are plenty of beaches in New Zealand, so why this one?
I’ll start by saying there are some unique rock formations in the ocean. Some see a gorilla or even a lion in there – and yes ‘some’ means definitely me. If you’ve followed my blog for a while you know I have a big imagination. Others just see rocks with a hole in, anyhow it is really cool and looks great on pictures.
This place is also great to stretch your legs. There are a few walks around, going from 1 up to 5 hours return. The walk to the beach is about 20 minutes one way. You first pass your friends the sheep and then the beach throws some sandy dunes at you. There is also a hilltop walk which is a bit longer and gives you a nice and higher overlook on the ocean – bring a jacket because it can get windy up there!
Wharariki beach is also a perfect place to explore. And that’s what makes our heart tick! There are hills, caves, little pools and so much more. I’m a big fan of the caves. When you walk toward the ocean you go left and you’ll notice a few rocks touching the water. The caves are huge, with many little chambers. Careful, there might be seals inside!
TIP: Go at low tide, so you can explore the ‘secret bay’ on your left side. On your left there is a hill touching the beach. At high tide you cannot walk by it. At low tide (or in between) you get access to a second smaller beach. Be careful when the tide rises when you are exploring the caves or the other bay, you might get stuck.
Always save the best for last, right? Ok – are you ready? Puppies!! Yes there are playful seal pups (most chance to see them is in December-January). Other times of the year you find the bigger seals, but the little ones are just the cutest.
I was so lucky when I visited this place at the start of the year. There were a few little pups playing in a little pool. In case you go the same period I went: they were on the right hand side of the beach, where there are a few rocks. Again, visit at low tide as you otherwise won’t be able to get close to them (and see them).
Wharariki beach is a popular spot, so don’t expect to be alone. Regardless it still has a place in my heart. The area is large enough so you can explore, have fun and won’t get stressed out of the amount of people.
How to get there?
Excited? Great! Here is how you get to this little Kiwi pearl.
Wharariki Beach is at the top north of the South Island. It is about an hour from Takaka. You just drive north in the direction of Farewell Spit, that’s that weird but cool long sand spit. Almost at the end of the road in Puponga you take a turn left into Wharariki Road. This road turns into gravel and at the end you find the car park and start of the walks.
I know what you’re thinking… car park! Unfortunately it is forbidden to sleep at the car park. You can try, but there are quite a few controls and you might find a $200 fine under your windshield wiper.
There are a few other options. You can stay at the holiday park – I usually never go to Holiday Parks (I always try to look for something more unique), but this one is quite all right. It is right at the start of the walks and we were getting up for sunrise, so proximity of the accommodation was important to us. It is $18 per person in a tent and $25 to stay in the hostel.
Another option is staying in a hostel, B&B in Golden Bay, or you can rent a bach (that’s how they call renting a holiday house).
This is a great option with more possibilities. You only have to do a little drive to the car park. But if you don’t need to be at Wharariki at 5am then that’s no problem!
To look into places to stay in Golden Bay, have a look HERE at booking.com .
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