Out At To End of Farewell Spit
The Maori call it ‘Onetahuai’ which means ‘heaped up sand’ but Farewell Spit is more than that.
Farewell Spit, New Zealand
Farewell Spit was in our travel plans for the day. We didn’t have much time, but beginning any day by watching the sunrise is always a calming and yet exhilarating experience; as it was this morning from the porch of our cottage at Dehra Doon Chalets in Riwaka. Once the sun had brought light to the valley of fruit trees, the sheep came over the hill and in single file went through a gate, just below where Sherrie stood, to discover what green morsels they would find in the grapefruit orchard.
Had to get a move-on, this morning wasn’t for lingering; we had about a one and a half hour drive to Collingwood.
As it turned out we had plenty of time and were the first ones aboard the monster dune-buggy bus to Cape Farewell and Farewell Spit.
Jock, owner/guide of Farewell Spit Nature Tours, drove us first to high lookout points for a bird’s eye vista of Farewell Spit and an impressive view of Cape Farewell, where the cliffs of the Cape are punctuated with an arch of stone. Cape Farewell, the most northern tip of the South Island, was named by Captain James Cook as he departed New Zealand at the end of his first visit in 1770. The Spit is today administered by the Department of Conservation as a sea bird and wildlife reserve and as such is closed to the public except through approved guided tours.
Back at sea level, the purpose-designed transporter confidently carried us over the sands of the slender spit; 35 kilometers long with a gentle curve eastward to partially enclose the waters of Golden Bay creating a shelter from the wild Tasman Sea. The Maori call it ‘Onetahuai’ which means ‘heaped up sand’ but it’s more than that; the spit is home to tall sand dunes, seals, sea grasses and, near the end, a light house surrounded by acres of trees.
The need for a lighthouse arose because of the frequent wrecks on the spit in early European days. Between 1840 and 1887 ten ships were wrecked and numerous others stranded on the beach. More recently it has been whales stranded in the shallow waters needing the help of rescue volunteers.
As we drove out to the lighthouse Jock pointed out different species of birds and we came across numerous seals dozing in the warm sun.
On our return we stopped at the base of a dune and most piled out to a new experience.
One last stop before finishing the tour; a lovely strip of beach below towering cliffs at the land end of the Spit.
Following a recommendation from the Collingwood Information Center, we finished off our day by stopping at the Mussel Inn in Onekaka for… yep, mussels and mussel stew accompanied by on-site craft beer. Terry found the owners just as fascinating as the menu – their unique and creative eco-friendly pursuit of ways to conserve, reuse and recycle while enhancing their business was applaudable. If you want a better pre-visit ‘feeling’ take some time and browse the Mussel Inn’s website. Great site; they lay it all out including their eco practices, music, food and beverages. Cheers!
Dehra Doon Chalets
Whether you are looking to hike the Abel Tasman trail, tramp the Kahurangi, discover local art or a new wine, sea kayak, horseback ride or simply bask in the sun on golden beaches, Dehra Doon Chalets provide an ideal home base for your adventures or a quiet retreat to take a day off from vacationing and relax with a good book and, perhaps, a glass or two of that wine you discovered.
Address: 139 Dehra Doon Road, Riwaka, Tasman
Phone: +64 3 528 8942 or 027 247 3500
FOOD & DRINK NEAR FAREWELL SPIT
Good eats. Good drinks. Good feel. Their food is simple and good; fresh steamed mussels and thick mussel chowder are what they’re known for but steak, fish and vegetarian offerings also garner attention. Mussel Inn produces all its own beers, ales, ciders, lemonade, ginger beer and also offer a selection of Nelson area wines and basic spirits. You have to go to understand the ‘feel good’ part; everyone is welcome, it’s laid back, no dress code, however, a code of decent manners (especially with electronic devices) is expected. Makes everyone feel good.
Location: Onekaka, Golden Bay, New Zealand (their sign is understated but there are usually cars parked on the street. Ask any local for directions).
Postal address: 1259 Takaka Collingwood Highway, Takaka. 7182
Phone (after 11am) 035259241
SIGHTSEEING ON FAREWELL SPIT
FAREWELL SPIT ECO TOURS
Jock retired and so did his business. There is no public access and only two approved tour companies. One is Farewell Spit Eco Tours.
Address: 6 Tasman Street, Collingwood 7073, Golden Bay
Phone: +64 3 524 8257
Free phone within New Zealand: 0800 808 257