Beaches, lakes & coastline
Tauranga Bay Fur Seal Colony
A short walk with spectacular ocean views, steeple rocks, and a large year-round 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 best time to view is October to March when the bull seals return to mate and the pups are at their most playful.
About the tracks
The 10 -minute track from the car park is suitable for wheelchairs and leads to viewing platforms directly overlooking the colony.
The full track on to Cape Foulwind takes 1.5 hours (3 hours return) and is well graded as it crosses rocky granite bluffs, grassy downs, swampy streams and sandy beaches.
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.
How it got its 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.
In 1827 the French Dumont Durville called it Les Trois Cloches (the Three Steeples).
From Westport, cross the Buller River Bridge and continue on to the road to the airport, Carters Beach, and Tauranga Bay. Look out for the Holcim Cement Plant about 11kms from Westport. You can do the walk from the Lighthouse end to the Tauranga Bay Seal Colony carpark, or vice versa. The Lighthouse Road is a right turn just past the Cement Works. For Tauranga Bay and the Seal Colony, keep left and follow the signs to the Coast. The walk is one-way and you will need to arrange transport at the track end or return along the same walkway.