There are so many gorgeous beaches in New Zealand that it’s hard to keep track of them all.
But if you haven’t visited Wharariki Beach yet, make sure you add it to your list of must-sees before you leave the country.
Located right at the top of the South Island on the north western tip, it’s a bit of a drive from the nearest big town.
But the drive is so worth it, not just for this beach, but for the whole area.
You can travel there in 2.5 hours from Nelson or 1 hour from Takaka, and once you get there you’ve got about a 20 minute walk to the beach.
Bring your camera! You’re going to need it. Wharariki Beach and its Archway Islands have even been used as one of the standard Windows desktop backgrounds!
I knew I recognised it from somewhere!
The walk to reach Wharariki Beach is not long and it’s pretty easy.
You’ll start off by climbing a small grassy hill and following the path through some lovely, rolling, green farmland.
After about 10 to 15 minutes, the path turns to sand beneath your feet and heads into a little wooded area before coming out in front of some tall sand dunes.
Climb to the top of the sand dunes and you’ll see the beach open out in front of you.
Head down to the other side of the dunes and you’ve made it!
It’s best to visit Wharariki Beach at low tide because you’ll get a good view of the islands with their iconic archways, plus you’ll get some great reflections for your photos.
You’ll also be able to explore further along the beach without having to get too wet.
There are four Archway Islands out in the water, although only two of them actually have the holes in them.
As well as these, there are plenty of other rock formations and caves along the beach that you can explore.
Another attraction of this beach, and arguably the most important, are the seals that regularly visit to play in the waves and warm up in the sun!
We saw a couple of them resting on rocks. Just remember to keep your distance!
These are New Zealand fur seals and they can move surprisingly fast if they are disturbed.
Other attractions in the area
While you’re up in this area of the South Island, I recommend that you also visit Cape Farewell and Farewell Spit.
You’ll notice the turn-off for Cape Farewell on the same road that leads to Wharariki Beach.
This is the northernmost point of the South Island and there is another archway in the rock here.
Farewell Spit also starts from this area and stretches 26km eastwards into the sea over Golden Bay.
Heading south, past Golden Bay, you can visit the town of Takaka and the gorgeous Abel Tasman National Park.
If you want to stay near Wharariki Beach and Cape Farewell, Wharariki Beach Holiday Park is located right next to the car park where you started the walk.
In the nearby village of Puponga, there is another paid motor camp, or there is a free campsite with lovely views further south at Taupata Reserve.
Check out Campermate for locations and prices.
I was lucky enough to spend a considerable amount of time at the top of the South Island and I fell in love with it!
There are so many beautiful sights to see, the weather is great and the people are so friendly.
So, if you are able to travel to the Top of the South sometime soon, make sure you don’t miss the opportunity to visit Wharariki Beach and it’s majestic rock formations.
Are you in New Zealand right now? Where do you plan to travel next? Let me know in the comments! 🙂
Want more like this? Check out these articles:
- Abel Tasman National Park: a pristine paradise
- 10 interesting things to do around Nelson
- Whispering Falls: Nelson’s stunning day hike
All images in this post are the property of lastminutewanders.com