12 November 2014

A walk on Farewell Spit, and virgin kayakers

There’s something rather satisfying about visiting the furthest point of an island – in this case the most north-western point of the South Island. Farewell Spit is an amazing sight – stretching out 27km as it does into the Tasman sea. You can only walk on a very small part of the base of the spit – if you want to go further you’d have to go on one of the eco tours which looked pretty expensive and we knew we could do a loop walk at the base of the Spit and still get a good feel of what it was like. If you scroll down and look at the map further below in the post you can get a sense of just how much of the Spit we covered in our 1 hr 30 min walk - a very small amount!

The Spit itself as an important ecological site, here's what an NZ Bird website has to say:

Farewell Spit is particularly important as a staging area for migratory shorebirds on the East Asia - Australasia migratory shorebird flyway. A total of 83 species of wetland birds have been recorded at the spit. Its mudflats provide a major moulting site for about 12,000 black swan. The spit is also home and breeding grounds for colonies of Australasian gannet, Caspian tern, southern black-backed gull, red-billed gull and variable oystercatcher.

Incredibly, we were first to arrive at the Spit – we knew this because we had to open the farm gate and drive over a cattle stop to get in! We headed off over a number of stiles and through paddocks of sheep over to the west coast of the Spit. It was so lush and green! 

 

 




 









When we got to the western side of the spit, it was like a typical West Coast beach with waves pounding the shore at regular intervals.



And sand as far as the eye could see - and then some.








We walked and walked.




And here's where one of our more entertaining tales from the holiday occurred. As we walked along the beach I spotted a massive dead seal lying on the beach with flies buzzing all over its head. I pointed it out to the others and we walked on by at a safe distance commenting on 'the poor thing'. The next thing you know, the 'poor, dead seal' lifted its head and looked at us. You should have heard our screams of horror! We were SO NOT expecting that. Talk about fright material.

So, not dead, but not far off. Clearly it was pretty unwell and unable to move though.

With hearts beating much faster, we carried on and turned inland to find the track back over to the eastern side of the Spit, after all taking a nervous wee in the dunes - I blame the seal experience for that!



The eastern side is so much more sheltered and gentle, and we are sure we spotted a good few thousand of the 12,000 black swans that live here bobbing gently in the water.




The view further out the spit appears almost as a mirage in places with farmland giving way to low lying dunes.






We finished off our walk with a coffee at the café overlooking the spit. I can think of worse places to stop and enjoy the view!








Although our walk had taken us from one side of the spit to the other, we barely made a dent in the total area - our walk is the small square below - The Triangle Flat/Spit Track walk.





We'd deliberately set out early so that we would be back to the bach in time for high tide on the estuary just after 11am which we'd missed in daylight hours the past two days.






Our bach really was so quintessentially Kiwi - we just loved staying here and for $90 a night it was an absolute steal - with the free use of kayaks included in this! We found the bach here on Bookabach should you ever be in the area and wanting a gorgeous place to stay we can highly recommend it!




We took turns taking the boys out on the estuary doing laps around the power pole out in the middle of the estuary as we got our confidence up.










Serenaded all the while by this tui in the trees above us.




It was so peaceful being out on such calm water. The only sound the splash of the paddle as it cut through the water.




The boys were keen to have a go at paddling and practiced on land before giving it a whirl.




 
 
Noah was even brave enough to take the kayak out on his own - we knew that with the water only being waist high it was as safe as it gets!
 
 




This was definitely one of the highlights of the holiday for the boys - they loved trying out a new outdoor activity and it's one we will be keen to try out again when we next get the opportunity!

Sadly, we've nearly reached the end of the road in our Nelson and Golden Bay holiday series....but we still went with a big bang on the biggest most scenic beach in NZ....Wharariki beach - that post to come!

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