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The wild northwestern coast of the South Island is the perfect place for a day adventure. In this area you'll find the Farewell Spit, with it's distinctive Kiwi shape curving round Golden Bay; the massive cliffs at Cape Farewell, and the one of a kind Wharariki Beach.
Be prepared for wind - when it starts to blow you can not only feel it but see it too!
Wharariki will blow you away. Literally. Everything at Wharariki is big. Big waves, big cliffs, big sand dunes, big caves, and even bigger winds! Part of the appeal to me is how remote it all feels, but it is only one hours drive from Takaka, followed by a 30 minute farm walk.
Make sure that you wear comfortable walking shoes - the Puponga Farm Park is a working farm, run in conjunction with the Department of Conservation, allowing public access over the marked tracks. There is livestock in many of the paddocks, and at lambing time some access may be restricted. After rain it can be damp underfoot, so boots or old sneakers are best.
The best time to visit is at low tide - there is a 4 hour window two hours before through until 2 hours after low tide where the most sand is exposed, allowing you to walk the full length of this incredible beach.
My favourite walk is about 3 hours long - you start from the car park, and walk Southwest along the farm track. At the signpost for the "Stone Bridge" turn right and head down to the beach. This is where you need low tide in your favour as you can't cross this section of the beach unless the water is out.
From here you walk back Northeast, along the beach past some massive sand dunes. Get some sand in your undies climbing to the top and jumping down them!
There is a small creek to cross (no more than knee deep) so roll your pants up and wade through to the other side. The track climbs steeply from here into the farm park once more, and it is marked by poles. There are lots of cliffs along this way, keep well clear if the wind is strong!
Continue following the markers and you will come down to the Cape Farewell. Keep an eye peeled for seals sunning themselves on the rocks below! From here you can extend your walk over the hilltop track to the Farewell Spit - another 3-4 hours. I like to follow the road back to the carpark (1km away) by this time.
There is also a local horsetrekking company with special concessions from the Department of Conservation to ride along the Wharariki Beach - another awesome way to explore this special place.
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