Tauranga Bay Fur Seal Colony
One of New Zealand’s most accessible seal colonies can be found just out of Westport on the edge of Tauranga Bay. The 10 -minute track from the car park is suitable for wheelchairs and leads to viewing platforms directly overlooking the colony. Although this is a year-round colony, the best time to view is October to March when the BIG BULL SEALS return to mate and the pups are at their most playful.
The full track on to Cape Foulwind takes one-and-a-half hours (three hours return) and is well graded as it crosses rocky granite bluffs, grassy downs, swampy streams and sandy beaches. Be sure to take good windproof clothing if it’s windy. The walk offers panoramic views of the cape and rugged coastline including rock stacks and steeples. A side track leads to Cape Foulwind lighthouse.
If you have non-walkers in your group, get them to drop you at the Lighthouse end, and send them to the superb café at Tauranga Bay, where you can meet them later.
Or if you’ve got some surfing enthusiasts in your group, some of the best surfing on the Coast is right here, at the café end of Tauranga Bay. The café used to be the Surf Club…..note the old photos on the wall.
Tauranga Bay carpark has picnic tables, great toilet facilities, and a beautiful beach to play on. It has story boards about the wildlife, history and environment. Watch out for Weka birds (native flightless Bush Hens). They are curious, always up for stealing your lunch, and not afraid of people. If you don’t watch out, they’ll grab your muffin!
History of this walk
Like many walks and trails in the Buller Region, this one was once part of a coach route between gold mining or other mining towns – this one from Charleston to Westport.
How it got it’s name
Several of our early explorers have had fun naming Cape Foulwind. In 1642 Abel Tasman the Dutch navigator called it Clyppygen Hoeck (Rocky Corner); Captain Cook an early English explorer, less than impressed with the wind which prevented him from landing, called it FoulWind; and in 1827 the French Dumont Durville called it Les Trois Cloches (the Three Steeples).