Just around the corner from Cape Farewell in New Zealand is the incredible Wharariki Beach. While many travelers stick to exploring the beaches of nearby Abel Tasman National Park, this remote corner is not to be missed! From the moment we parked at the Wharariki Beach campsite and started the short hike to the ocean, our expectations were completely blown out of the water. Join us on our full day adventure at Wharariki Beach, from exploring the caves at low tide to watching the sunset behind the Archway Islands.
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Getting to the Wharariki Beach Campsite
Wharariki Beach is located near the most northern point of the South Island in New Zealand. While it is a very popular day trip from Nelson, if you have the time we recommend spending a night at the Wharariki Beach campsite.
The small towns of Puponga and Collingwood are also popular jumping off points for travelers to see the caves and Archway Islands. From the Wharariki Beach Holiday Park it’s only a 15 to 20 minute walk down to the ocean.
There’s also a parking lot at the entrance of the trail. Just know that whether you’re driving in for the day or staying at the Wharariki Beach campsite, you’ll still have to make the hike down to the water.
About Wharariki Beach New Zealand
Now you may recognize Wharariki Beach and the Archway Islands once you see them… But where do you know these beautiful rocks from?
Well it’s image is actually one of the most famous Windows Screensavers of all time! With how well known it is, we were surprised how few visitors we saw on our trip.
Maybe it’s how long and spacious the sand spreads between the rocks, or how far the stunning cliffs stretch off into the distance. Whatever the case, we felt like we had it all to ourselves!
In addition to the many caves and Archway Islands, there are a number of hikes to do near Wharariki Beach New Zealand. Also, keep an eye out for seals, dolphins, and rare birds while exploring
Wharariki Beach Tides & Exploring the Caves
The main draw of Wharariki Beach New Zealand is the incredible cliffs, caves, and Archway Islands. Before we get into the beauty of these iconic rock formations, it’s important to take the Wharariki Beach tides into consideration for your visit.
The absolute best way to see this area is during low tide as that’s the only time you’ll be able to walk through most of the caves. The Archway Islands may get all the shine, but going in and out of the caves was our favorite part of the day!
Hikes Around Wharariki Beach
If you have time before sunset consider doing some hiking around Wharariki Beach. As you come out towards the ocean from the main trail you’ll see towering cliffs and green farmlands up to your right. Walk about 15 minutes along the coast, and then cross the small river to get to the start of the Puponga Hilltop Track.
What starts with a steep incline continues upwards along the coast. The first viewpoint gives you an epic view of Wharariki Beach, and is also a great spot to have lunch. The trail then continues on the cliffs and winds through a massive farm.
It was amazing to walk through literally hundreds of sheep with the ocean crashing just below us. From here we turned around to go back for sunset, but you can continue along Cape Farewell to Pillar Point Lighthouse if you have more time.
Experiencing the Archway Islands for Sunset
One of the reasons we chose to stay the night at the Wharariki Beach campsite is so we could catch the sunset. Luckily, the sun going down also happened to coincide with low tide on the day of our visit! First we climbed up a sandy unmarked path on one of the hills and took in the view from a small lookout.
After that we went down to see more caves, and stared in awe as the sun set over the Archway Islands. While walking back on the beach we even saw small fur seals playing in the tide pools! We really couldn’t have asked for a better end to our day at Wharariki Beach in New Zealand.
Have any questions on the Wharariki Beach tides or want to share your own experience at the amazing Archway Islands? Leave us a comment at the bottom of this post!
Brigitte & Jake
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New Zealand Travel Planning
Jucy Van: The best way to explore New Zealand is with a Jucy camper! We spent over six weeks driving around the North and South Islands in a van and loved every moment.
Rental Car: If you’re not renting a van you’ll still need a vehicle to get around. We use Discover Cars when traveling and enjoy having the freedom to get around.
Tours: Check out Get Your Guide to find activities all over New Zealand! They have everything from a Milford Sound cruise with underwater observatory, to a Otago wine tour with gourmet wine & lunch, and even a Kaikoura whale watching cruise!
Travel Insurance: Never travel abroad without being covered. We’ve been using SafetyWing for insurance the last few years and they are always there when we need them.
South Island New Zealand
Travel Tips & Guides: 10 Helpful NZ Travel Tips – South Island Itinerary – 25 Beautiful Beaches – Wellington to Picton Ferry – 15 Freedom Camping Tips – 27 Delicious Food & Drinks – 7 Milford Sound Tips
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