Wharariki Beach Walk

Wharariki Beach Walk

Archway Islands



117 Rankers Reviews

98 Face-to-Face

137 Walking

8 Seal Watching

7 Golden Bay

Your Nature Guide

Marios Gavalas's avatar

Marios Gavalas

Author And Researcher

Nau mai, haere mai

I'm Marios, delivering the best of Aotearoa's nature walks to your device.

I've personally walked hundreds of New Zealand's tracks and spent months in libraries uncovering interesting information on New Zealand/Aotearoa. And you'll find a slice of that research on this page - enjoy!



Wharariki Beach and Puponga Farm Park in behind.
Horse trekkers on the beach
Looking down the beach
On the beach, so much to explore
Walking track to get there


2 km return | 40 minutes return

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.


Feature Value Info


South IslandNelson RegionGolden Bay


  • Walking
  • Seal Watching
  • Free

Operating Season And Hours

Seal pups in March, April and May.


Showing 13 reviews of 110.

Nick's avatar


Ranking: 9/10

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

Reviewed almost 2 years ago and experienced in January 2018

Heather Flanders's avatar

Heather Flanders

Ranking: 8/10

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.

Reviewed almost 3 years ago and experienced in March 2017

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Nicole Kasischke's avatar

Nicole Kasischke


Ranking: 10/10

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.

Reviewed almost 3 years ago

Mike Dw's avatar

Mike Dw


Ranking: 10/10

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.

Reviewed almost 3 years ago

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Tereza Bulova's avatar

Tereza Bulova

Czech Republic

Ranking: 9/10

Huge, beautiful beach with sea lions and their babies.

Reviewed about 3 years ago and experienced in January 2017

Bernd Giermann's avatar

Bernd Giermann


Ranking: 8/10

Very nice dunes, seals, short walk from the carpark.

Reviewed about 3 years ago and experienced in January 2017

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Sebastian and Johanna's avatar

Sebastian and Johanna


Ranking: 9/10

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.

Reviewed over 3 years ago and experienced in February 2017

Melanie and Pascal's avatar

Melanie and Pascal


Ranking: 8/10

Nice cliffs and wild beach. Very beautiful.

Reviewed over 3 years ago and experienced in February 2017

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Magdalena's avatar



Ranking: 7/10

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.

Reviewed over 3 years ago and experienced in December 2016

Kirsty Smith's avatar

Kirsty Smith

United Kingdom

Ranking: 10/10

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!

Reviewed over 3 years ago and experienced in October 2016

Award-1-24px Congratulations Wharariki Beach Walk - Archway Islands

Top Ranked NZ Awards 2016 Seal Watching Winner

Janina's avatar



Ranking: 10/10

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.

Reviewed over 3 years ago and experienced in November 2016

Evelyn Rloeh's avatar

Evelyn Rloeh


Ranking: 7/10

Nice rocks but with sunny weather I can imagine it is even more beautiful.

Reviewed over 3 years ago and experienced in November 2016

Lene Nilsson's avatar

Lene Nilsson


Ranking: 10/10

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.

Reviewed over 3 years ago and experienced in November 2016

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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 😍

Nick Morrison's avatar

Nick Morrison

Rankers owner