Ka Pai Island – Part 3

“On a Mish” #245 Ka Pai Island (Part 3). Wharariki Beach. Cape Farewell. 18.1.2021. Nor’west gales of more than 8 meters per second can really wreak havoc on a camping ground. With Pohara beach sitting on the eastern edge of Golden Bay it often misses the rain that batters the Nelson Ranges, but it is not safe from the wind. Just beside my parents’ self contained unit, what was once a camping shelter is now a tangled mess of fabric and poles thanks to the relentless wind. The wind was merely a side show as more heavy rain was forecast for around lunch time the next day. As a combined family unit we listened to the blasts of wind in the comfort of the Mosley’s well reinforced camping shelter and made a plan for our next mission…

Knowing the following morning was free of rain we decided that a visit to Wharariki Beach at Farewell Spit was the best way to spend the day. Early-ish the next day after yet another night of tarp flapping, we began the drive west. Wharariki Beach is as far north west as you can go on New Zealand’s South Island, and its remoteness is felt as the little towns decrease in size the further west you go. The journey took us to Puponga, where the road surface changed from concrete to gravel, and the terrain around us became more barren and windswept. From the small car park at the end of the road we continued on foot into the sand dunes above the beach. While hiking along the track we met other visitors who warned us about the sand being picked up by the strong wind. With the ominous advice we had received we cautiously continued on towards the edge of Aotearoa. A small pocket in the sand dunes gave us our final shelter, before hitting the beach and the beach hitting us! A continual nor’west wind drove the sand off the ground and across the beach, spraying anything in its way like a spray can full of tiny stones to the face. The wind wasn’t overly cold, but exposed parts of the body felt its sandy wrath.

Wharariki Beach

The views at Wharariki Beach were incredible and we took them in during the small moments when we could look up and see in front of us. The sculpted rock of the wind-ravaged Archway Islands stood tall amongst the deep green of the choppy Tasman Sea waves. Above, the local seabirds did their best to keep under control as the wind hurtled their light bodies through the air. We managed to find a small secluded beach which offered a temporary break from the wind, before crossing the beach again. Our faces felt instant relief after we cambered back over the sand dunes and started to head away from the beach. As rough as the hike sounds it was well worth the effort, and the area’s remoteness limits its visitors to the brave few who make the long journey west. As we began the drive back to Pohara we all agreed that the day was another success, and now we can all say we have journeyed to the edge of the world!

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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