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Well worth the walk

Fiona Thomson

Wharariki Beach is a wild, magnificent, and windswept long sandy beach, home of the Archway Islands, and can be found at the northernmost point of the South Island — west of Cape Farewell. It’s about 2.5 hours drive from Nelson over the Takaka Hill, or about a 1 hour drive from the settlement of Takaka in Golden Bay.

This hidden paradise is only accessible by a walking track — which begins at the carpark at the end of Wharariki road. During the summer months, a basic café operates at the road-end near the carpark. We enjoyed an ice-cream, muffin and a coffee under the shade of some large macrocarpa trees. The track guides you across farmland, through coastal forest and then across a number of sand dunes, before descending down onto the golden sand of this remote and stunning landscape.

The walk from the carpark to the beach takes about 40 minutes, and is well worth the effort.

The Archway Islands are a group of four rock stacks, or small islands, carved out by the pounding Tasman sea  — which has cut right through two of these large rocks, creating interesting archways.

These impressive structures are huge — with the largest one measuring approximately 300 metres by 200 metres wide, and rising 66 meters out of the water. We visited this site a couple of times during our stay in Golden Bay. Each time our experience was different — as we visited at different times of the day, the tideline was also different; combined with different weather patterns, the light produced different visual effects on the rock pools.

Wharariki Beach is undoubtedly one of the most-photographed beaches in the Nelson/Tasman region — you may recognise this landscape, as it has been used as a screensaver for Windows 10 operating systems.

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