It’s a wild ride at Wharariki. As the incessant westerlies draw up a big surf, the ripples of sand dance on the wide expansive beach. Massive dunes, so high you can body surf them, rise opposite the Archway Islands. You can see the wind and wave in their designs.
Between March and May, seal pups are often swimming in the sea pools at the southern end. Treat these magical creatures with respect and enjoy!
From Puponga, turn left and continue 6 km to the roadend carpark.
The track first crosses farmland, before the consolidated dunes and a low forest of manuka. You then undulate over the massive sand hills, arriving at Wharariki Beach with the Archway Island out to sea.
The sedimentary sandstones of the coastline are weakly bonded. Couple with the fierce, constant westerly winds, the force of the moving air has sculpted the rock faces.
Archway Islands are the same process but with wave. Gnawing and biting at the rock, the force of water has enlarged a pre-existing weakness, which has collapsed to form the arch.
The huge dunes are so steep you can take massive leaps from the crests and tumble many metres to a crumpled heap at their base. Bring goggles.
Fur seals and their pups often play at the southern end of the beach. Although the pups can be curious, the mum's can be protective. They run surprisingly fast and bite. Take care and respect the animal's habitat.
South Island ▷ Nelson Region ▷ Golden Bay
Operating Season And Hours
Seal pups in March, April and May.
Showing 13 reviews of 110.
A truly stunning walk in quite a remote location through jaw dropping landscapes you may never see the like of. Well worth a drive down the long dusty roads to find it
Beware, last section of the road is gravel and narrow with soft edges. Saw a motorhome on its side after moving too far across to let others pass. Delightful walk up a steep hillside initially then through soft sand to hard sand beach. Playful young seals in rock pools and many interesting rock arches, caves and rock formations. Difficult to spot walking track on return from the beach. Clean long drop toilet but not water or hand sanitizer.
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Did not expect to see such a breathtaking beach here in New Zealand.. Huge sand dunes, caves and nature. Also enjoyed the walk from the car park as you are crossing grass areas with sheep on it. Nice 20 minute walk one way.
Awesome beach in the north of the South Island. Come here when the tide is low and the sun is going down. 20 minute walk from the carpark.
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Huge, beautiful beach with sea lions and their babies.
Very nice dunes, seals, short walk from the carpark.
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Sebastian and Johanna
Take the long way around to get to a beautiful place. With nice rock formations on the beach. Do not miss the main beach either. Just be kind to the seals.
Melanie and Pascal
Nice cliffs and wild beach. Very beautiful.
It was beautiful and you could stay and watch the sun go down, but the wind was so strong it blew sand in your face and it stings quite a bit so wear long clothes.
What an awesome place! We were lucky to time our visit around a beautiful sunset. It is definitely advisable to go here at low tide so you can fully explore the beach and all the awesome rock formations. We missed a bit as the tide was coming in. But it was still a full 10 point visit!
What a beautiful beach you get to after a short walk, so many hidden caves and many seals around. Very windy indeed - which creates wonderful sand turbulences close to the ground.
Nice rocks but with sunny weather I can imagine it is even more beautiful.
Lovely walk from the carpark through a field with sheep and cows through a forest and down to the beach with seals, very worth it to go there.
Thanks to all the good people working for the NZ Department of Conservation - for all your hard work - making NZ more beautiful, accessable and healthy! Cheers 😍