Off the Beaten Track to... Farewell Spit
At 35 kilometres long, Farewell Spit is the longest natural sandbar in New Zealand and can be found at the top of the South Island. Running eastward from Cape Farewell, the island's northernmost point, the spit is home to a huge variety of sea birds, with over 90 species having been recorded here. It is also the site of regular strandings for whales that come stuck in its shallow waters.
Farewell Spit is regarded as a Wetland of International Importance and is protected by New Zealand's Department of Conservation. No private access is permitted and only two tour operators are allowed to conduct tours there. These organised tours not only give visitors access to the seabird and wildlife reserves, but offer the opportunity to jump off a sand dune, visit the lighthouse and the gannet colony.
Abel Tasman in 1642 was the first European to see the spit, calling it Sand Duining Hoeck. Its Maori name, Onetahuai, translates as ‘heaped up sand’ but eventually Farewell Spit took its name from Captain James Cook, who in 1770 named it Cape Farewell.
Our Pick of Farewell Spit Highlights
- Bird watching – Over 90 bird species have been recorded in the area.
- Seal watching – Wharariki Beach is a seal breeding ground.
- Viewing the historic lighthouse and explor ing its reserve.
- Horse trekking and mountain biking.
Useful Farewell Spit Links
To help plan your Farewell Spit / Golden Bay holiday choose from the main categories below: