What we do
At the end of the road right at the very top of Golden Bay you will find Wharariki (fa-ra-ri-ki) Beach Holiday Park. It is on the edge of remote New Zealand where New Zealand wildlife is safe to express itself in its natural surroundings - buntings appear, flashing bright yellow in the sunshine. In addition to this, Dion (the owner and builder) has peacocks roaming the campsite, lending a sense of unruffled orderliness to the place.
The camp itself is newly built along sound eco- friendly principles. Everything has been designed to minimise the environmental footprint of our visit to this magical area, from the composting toilets to the ‘take your rubbish with you’ policy. The camp site and surrounding area is unadulterated by the usual trappings of human visitations, other than a nearby small car park for day visitors to Wharariki Beach and a sheep farmstead.
Staying at this campsite will allow you more time to experience the isolation and vastness of the wild and untouched Wharariki Beach and to capture the special light at the beginning or the end of the day. Just fifteen minutes walk away from the camp through bush and paddocks, and above a small lagoon you will marvel at the tranquillity, the birdlife flitting about you and you might be lucky enough to be enchanted by the sight of seal pups playing in the lagoon. As well, the sheep over on the ‘astro- turfed’ hills opposite quietly munching while their lambs nuzzle for a feed add to the sense of peace and calm in this place.
Then you will come upon the huge sand dunes that mark an entrance to the beach and the immensity of the panorama before you is breath taking. Untamed, unshaped by human activity, a vast wilderness of a beach with huge monolithic rocky outcrops, arches, caves in sandstone cliff faces and deep rock pools, Wharariki Beach is unique. It will feel as though you have become lost in another world, it is so unlike any other beach you have been to.
Paddling along the beach through tidal ebb and flow you will come across large, deep rock pools where the water is clear and turquoise and might be occupied by seal pups, lithe and adventurous in their cavorting with each other in the pool. It is simply magical.
Returning to the camp site the facilities for hot showers and cooking are well arranged and clean. The communal kitchen is spacious and well appointed for food preparation on hygienic surfaces. With a great long dining table made from a macrocarpa flitch, the dining area, with a CD player for music, lends itself to the sharing of travelling stories and the making of new friends. You will see what I mean when you read Dion’s Visitor’s Book!
Dion believes himself to be the caretaker of the land his campsite occupies as well as the area surrounding it which is managed by DOC, the New Zealand Department of Conservation. Deeply committed to preserving the environment, his energy has been behind the design and build that has turned Wharariki Beach Holiday Park into such a special place.
Dion’s passion for the area and the place he has built soon becomes obvious when he talks about the history of this land at the top of the South Island. He’ll tell you of the descendants of John and Mary Riley who arrived in Nelson from England in 1842. They moved out to Golden Bay and gradually grew their sheep (mainly) and cattle farm(s) through the later generations whose lives remained closely wrapped up with the land until it became the responsibility of DOC to preserve it and protect native habitat.
With his family, Dion has become virtually self-sufficient on the land around the camp site. He is proud that he hardly ever needs to go into town to buy provisions, but also enjoys being part of the isolated small community that is here at the top of the South Island.
That said, Dion loves to talk and meet new people so you'll find a very friendly greeting when you arrive.
Follow the road north signposted to Farewell Spit. Fork off west at Puponga taking a gravel track for 6km, passing Old Man Rock on your right hand side. Wharariki Beach Holiday Park is at the end of this track adjacent to the car park.
All Booking Enquiries: email the Holiday Park directly from the link at the top of this page.