Wharariki Beach is something you need to see to believe it. We were totally unprepared for this visual feast, since we had planned to go the opposite way, out to Farewell Spit. This peninsula, a sea of sand dunes, is a popular breeding ground for seabirds and thus can only be accessed with a tour. Luckily we were advised against this six hour trip in an eco-bus (!) that goes all the way to the tip of the peninsula with two little stops in between. So instead, we went to discover the area west of the peninsula on foot, which is so much more scenic. Moreover, it does not cost a penny.
The trail initially passes through green pastures on gentle hills and then suddenly enters a small plateau of rolling white sand dunes. A splendid vista! We waded through the fine sand towards the edge of the dunes, where they abruptly drop onto an immense, completely flat beach opening into the Tasman Sea. Off its shore, two giant rocks dominate the view. They appeared to have been chiselled by a giant, featuring formations that make your fantasy go wild. Down at the beach huge caves penetrate the limestone adding to the stunning scenery.
While we were soaking all this in, we noticed a family down at the water waving us over. They had come across a few fur seal pubs playing in a tidal pool and going wild. These gorgeous creatures leaped like dolphins, clapped their fins together while swimming on their back, jumped onto each other and did all kinds of crazy manoeuvres. Some swam ashore, propped up on their little fin-legs and curiously looked at us.
This performance climaxed when the two children threw a piece of kelp, sea weed, into the pond. The pups all tried to bite into the kelp pulling it from each other and at one point four seals had their teeth sank into this string of kelp playing tug-of war. When the children got a hold of the kelp and pulled it ashore, the cubs came out of the water demanding their kelp back. It was simply hilarious!
The incoming tide eventually gave them easy access to the whole wide ocean probably reminding them that there were other fun things to do out there and they left us behind almost heartbroken. This experience was similar captivating as stroking the baby vicuna in Bolivia, something unforgettable.