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Cape Farewell, Golden Bay: The Very Top of the South Island

Cape Farewell, Golden Bay: The Very Top of the South Island

Cape Farewell, the northern-most tip of the South Island, is a place pretty much everyone who visits Golden Bay will have on their itinerary. You’ll get a decent look at it from close to the car park but keep reading and I’ll let you know where to go for the best views.

Cape Farewell Viewpoint

The first time we visited Cape Farewell it was close to sunset and we were in a rush to get to Wharariki Beach. We were underwhelmed with what we saw in the fading light, so a few years later (in April 2023) we returned in the hope of a better experience. And that’s exactly what happened.

The main viewpoint is a good place to see Cape Farewell, but walk a short distance in either direction and things get a lot more impressive. The two short walks below are part of the Puponga Farm Track, a much longer walk linking the sights along this stretch of coastline.

A Short Walk East

From the main viewpoint turn right (east) and take the track you can see heading up the hill. It takes you along a ridge and across farmland, with views back towards Cape Farewell.

Keep walking for 5-minutes or so and you’ll reach a fence and beyond that is Pillar Point and Farewell Spit. We were happy to get such a good view of it with very little effort. You can keep walking to Pillar Point Lighthouse and beyond, but the spot pictured below should be good enough for most.

A Short Walk West

Walking up the other side is a bit tougher. Head for the orange pole at the top (one of the highest points on the Puponga Farm Track), and you’ll get incredible views over Wharariki Beach and the coastline leading to Farewell Spit. You’ll be walking up steep, exposed farmland with no real tracks — not one for the faint-hearted!

As you can see the views at Cape Farewell are stunning if you’re willing to put in a little effort — it’s still worth seeing it from the main viewpoint though.

Getting to Cape Farewell

Cape Farewell is in Golden Bay, a 30-minute drive from Collingwood. It’s a good one to combine with a trip to Wharariki Beach. There are heaps of walks in this area, and if you feel like a long, scenic drive you could consider the trip out to Anatori (pictured below).

The scenic road to Anatori, New Zealand

Sunset at Wharariki Beach

The reason we were late / rushed the first time at Cape Farewell was to see the sunset at Wharariki Beach – and we were happy with the decision. It’s still one of the best sunsets we’ve seen on our travels around the South Island!

Slope Point

Slope Point is at the very southern tip of the South Island. It’s nowhere near as spectacular as Cape Farewell but it’s worth a look if you’re exploring Southland. There’s heaps to see nearby (the Catlins), including some of New Zealand’s best waterfalls and beaches.

READ MORE: 23 of the Best Things to Do in the Catlins

Are you planning around the South Island? Check out our two-week South Island itinerary!

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Jon Algie

I'm a South Island local -- born in Timaru and raised in Dunedin. I left the island in 2006 and returned 10 years later. Having seen a good chunk of the world I realised how special this place is -- the most beautiful island in the world! Seven years (and almost 400 posts) later I'm still helping locals and tourists alike plan their trips around the South Island.