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Time: 40 minutes return | Distance: 2 km 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!

Wharariki Beach and Puponga Farm Park in behind.

Wharariki Beach and Puponga Farm Park in behind.

Horse trekkers on the beach

Horse trekkers on the beach

Looking down the beach

Looking down the beach

Judith Bishop

On the beach, so much to explore

On the beach, so much to explore

Judith Bishop

Walking track to get there

Walking track to get there

Judith Bishop

Judith Bishop

Access

From Puponga, turn left and continue 6 km to the roadend carpark.

Track

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.

Geology

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.

Fauna

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.

map

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109 reviews with the most recent first, showing page 1 of 9.

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.

Nicole Kasischke's avatar

Nicole Kasischke

Germany

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.

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Mike Dw's avatar

Mike Dw

Austria

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.

Tereza Bulova's avatar

Tereza Bulova

Czech Republic

Ranking: 9/10

Huge, beautiful beach with sea lions and their babies.

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Bernd Giermann's avatar

Bernd Giermann

Switzerland

Ranking: 8/10

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

Sebastian and Johanna's avatar

Sebastian and Johanna

Sweden

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.

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Melanie and Pascal's avatar

Melanie and Pascal

Netherlands

Ranking: 8/10

Nice cliffs and wild beach. Very beautiful.

Magdalena's avatar

Magdalena

Germany

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.

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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!

Janina's avatar

Janina

Germany

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.

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

Top Ranked NZ Awards 2016 Seal Watching Winner

Evelyn Rloeh's avatar

Evelyn Rloeh

Netherlands

Ranking: 7/10

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

Lene Nilsson's avatar

Lene Nilsson

Denmark

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.

Louis Nilsson's avatar

Louis Nilsson

Denmark

Ranking: 10/10

Fascinating walk to the beach through farmland, along the river and at the rough beach.

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