Ocean waves lap on the rocky shores of this beautiful bay where you can see multitudes of New Zealand fur seals basking in the sun.
The Cape Foulwind Seal Colony is a fantastic place to observe these native animals in the wild. Watch New Zealand fur seals, or “kekeno” in Māori, from the viewing platform and walk the tracks winding around the historical sites of Tauranga Bay.
Stand on the wooden deck to get a view of the colony from above. Mother seals catch fish for their seal pups and huge males compete for mates. Although the colony is active year-round, the best time to visit is from November to January when breeding season brings greater seal numbers and activity.
Feel the ocean breeze on your skin as you gaze across the wild Tasman Sea. Look for dolphins playing in the waves and seabirds of many species soaring on the coastal breeze.
The viewing platform is about a 10-minute stroll from the car park. The site has no entry fees. Bring warm windproof clothing, as the weather can be quite cold on this exposed headland.
Walk the Tauranga Bay coastal track beginning at the car park and continuing along rugged limestone cliffs and over lush grassy hills. Enjoy the dramatic scenery of the West Coast and look out for the flightless weka bird, which has a reputation for stealing walkers’ lunches.
Take a side path down to the small lighthouse that was built in 1926 to replace an earlier wooden structure. Stop to admire the mounted astrolabe that is a replica of the ancient navigating device used by the first European sailors to visit New Zealand in the1600s. The coastal walk takes about 2 hours return. Bring your own water and food.
Warm up with a drink or meal at the charming restaurant located about a 2-minute drive away on the opposite side of Tauranga Bay. Sit on the balcony to appreciate sweeping ocean views and watch surfers brave giant waves.
The colony and walking tracks are 17 kilometres (11 miles) west of the town of Westport and accessed by a car park area with convenient picnic tables and toilet facilities.
Visit Cape Foulwind Seal Colony to see the amazing wildlife of this beautiful New Zealand region.