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"Farewell Spit" New Zealand Things to Do Tip by mad4travel

New Zealand Things to Do: 1,188 reviews and 1,667 photos

  Farewell Spit
by mad4travel
  • Farewell Spit - New Zealand
      Farewell Spit
    by mad4travel
  • Farewell Spit lighthouse - New Zealand
      Farewell Spit lighthouse
    by mad4travel

Farewell Spit is at the very tip of the South Island. Its reached from the town of Collingwood. I am surprised it is called a town though. It only has 200 inhabitants which is a 10th the size of my village in the UK. Scale takes a while to get used to in New Zealand!

Its best to get a tour rather than drive because of the tides and quicksand. The tide here can recede as much as seven kilometres exposing some 80 square kilometres of mud flats; a rich feeding ground for the many sea birds in the area but also a death trap to the frequently stranded whales.

The sand spit is created because of strong currents running through the Cook strait. The continual movement of the currents pile up the sand in a curved hook shape. Predictions state that the spit will grow almost 2 km in the next 5 years alone.

Abel Tasman in 1642 was probably the first European to see the spit: he called it Sand Duining Hoeck. Captain James Cook was the next European visitor in 1770. His charts show Farewell Spit as a broad peninsula.

There is a lighthouselighthouse at the end of the spit was first lit in 1870. The last lighthouse keeper left in 1984 when it became automatic. We were lucky on our tour to get a driver who had been a lighthouse keepers son and grew up there. He had lots of tales to tell about his life there. It was really interesting.


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  • Written May 26, 2006
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