A delightful dune-backed beach of considerable character is almost locked by a low, craggy island, the home of a seal colony. In exceptional conditions in low neap tides one may walk across to the island, but seals, particularly young seals, may generally be seen on the northern tip of the beach.
The easiest way to see the seal colony is to follow the Cape Foulwind Walkway to the top of the point. There are several good vantage points, including one with an informative plaque on the seals and the colony. The walkway itself (1 1/2 hrs) carries on to Cape Foulwind, affording striking seascapes.
Abel Tasman dropped anchor in Tauranga Bay, a visit recalled by a memorial incorporating a replica of an astrolabe (an early navigational instrument), a gift in 1982 from the Royal Netherlands Navy. Visible are the remains of a railway, used to bring stone for the Westport harbour works, which ran around the Cape and through a tunnel (now collapsed) to Tauranga Bay. Swimmers should treat the beach with caution. One may drive on south along the beach to cross the isthmus and reach Nine Mile Beach for a dramatic view of the coast and ranges to the south.
Cape Foulwind Lighthouse
The Cape has witnessed only one recorded loss, when in 1825 the Rifleman, en route from Hobart to Britain, went down. None survived; but local tradition is that the cargo was plundered by Maori at Westport and the survivors despatched in the traditional manner. A track leads down to a cliff-backed sandy cove beneath the lighthouse, a favoured picnic and swimming spot. Offshore lie The Steeples. Near the lighthouse a waterfall, seen at its best after rain, plummets into the ocean.