West Coast

Hiking the Cape Foulwind Walkway, West Coast

The Cape Foulwind Walkway is one of the best coastal hikes on the South Island’s West Coast and is reason enough to venture north from Punakaiki (something that a lot of tourists don’t end up doing). It’s only an hour north of the famous Pancake Rocks — hopefully this post will convince you to visit. You’ll see plenty of exceptional coastal views and some seals (if you have decent eyesight) and the hike is short and relatively easy – walks that are easy and have great views are the best kind!

Hiking the Cape Foulwind Walkway

There’s a car park at each end of the Cape Foulwind Walkway and it doesn’t seem to matter which way you do it. We started at the southern end and after a short uphill walk we reached a viewing platform. Below were heaps of seals playing in small tidal pools and relaxing on the rocks.

From there the track continues along the cliff towards a lighthouse, which you’ll see in the distance. The track hugs the cliffs and the views below are awesome. There are several little bays and stretches of beach and the track seems like it was built to maximize the views.

The lighthouse itself is a bit disappointing. It’s fairly new but the stone foundations of the old one are nearby. From the lighthouse the track continues down to the car park at the northern end of the track. There isn’t much point walking all the way down — so if you turn around at this point you’ll save some time.

All up the Cape Foulwind Walkway is meant to take two hours but we did it in around 90 minutes. There are some uphill sections but it’s easy and the track is in great condition (proper hiking boots aren’t required). It’s a popular walk (it seemed to mostly be locals) and with views like this you can see why. There aren’t too many coastal hikes on the West Coast (the most iconic West Coast hikes are all inland) so it’s worth doing if you have the time.

Getting to the Cape Foulwind Walkway

The Cape Foulwind Walkway is just under an hour’s drive north of Punakaiki and 15 minutes south of Westport. The drive features some great scenery and Westport is a good town to do some shopping, eat a nice meal or check into a motel and get some rest after all the hiking and driving you’ve likely done.

Are you planning a trip to the West Coast? Check out our other posts about the area!

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Jon Algie

A travel blogger from New Zealand who has just returned home after 6 years abroad. Join me as I see as much of the South Island as I can.
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