Sunday, 7 September 2014

Farewell to Old Wharves

On the way home from the Archway Islands we stopped to do the short 5 minute walk to Cape Farewell; the carpark was the end of a road we had passed earlier in the day and still part of Puponga Farm Park.

Cape Farewell is the most northerly point on the South Island and is located just west of Farewell Spit. It was named by Captain James Cook in 1770 - it was the last land seen by his crew as they departed on their homeward voyage.

The sun would now be perfect to shoot the Archway Islands but it’s totally in the wrong position for the Cape (hence the sun spots on my lens). I just can’t win! Morning, with the sun rising would be perfect here! I know that the Farewell Spit tour stops here on the way to the Spit & I’m hoping that when we do the tour I’ll be able to get some better shots.

It’s fascinating seeing all the coloured rock layers in the cliffs that surround the Cape. There are a number of faultlines running through the area & I wonder how long the arch will last; a few dozen years or hundreds of years or perhaps thousands? Although it’s a wonder it is still standing, what with the wave action and earthquakes.

While standing on the platform looking over the edge we could hear seal pup cries from far below. It took a few moments to find them, frolicking about in the water and resting on rocks. One pup was having fun all by himself surfing in on the waves; he’d surf in, swim back out under the waves and surf back in again.

We walked up the hill a short way and looked over the edge of the cliffs as far as we dared. If we brought the grandkids here, they’d be tied to our sides!  “ Hey look Nana, I can do roly-polys down the hill!” Oops. Plop!

The walk up to Pillar Point Lighthouse looked far too strenuous, I think I can safely say we won’t be saving that for another time!

And with that, we can now say we have visited both the most northerly & most southerly points of the South Island. This is Slope Point at the south end of the Catlins which we visited back in January.

And now for a few random shots from the road trip;

Near the Cape carpark,  the iconic New Zealand Cabbage tree (alive this time).

This friendly peacock greeted us at both ends of the Archway Island walk. He was looking for hand-outs, poking his head inside the car door as soon as I opened it and following me around when he saw I was eating food. It’s hard to believe how magnificent the colours & patterns are on a peacock, how can nature produce such finery.

You’ll remember the whitebait couple we found beside the tiny stream on our way to the Arches? We had stopped to see this flock of Royal Spoonbills (Kotuku Ngutupapa), numbering 27 (or 28, we couldn't quite decide), this is the largest flock of spoonbills we’ve seen on our travels. They were very obliging and I was able to move in quite close. That was until I slipped off the log I was quietly sidling along on my behind. Then they took flight.

The tide was all the way out by the time we made our way home along the Golden Bay shoreline and the sand flats fully exposed, making for some interesting colours and patterns.

We stopped at Puponga (near the beginning of the curve to Farewell Spit), where I’d seen a sign post indicating there was an old wharf somewhere nearby. With the tide out the piles of the old Puponga Wharf were now exposed. The Puponga Wharf was used early last century by colliers to cart coal away from a number of mines in the area.  Because of the shallow bay the wharf was over half a mile long and was thought to be the longest in the Southern Hemisphere at the time. And even with it being so long, the channel had to be constantly dredged to give access to the 1000 ton ships. Eventually silting in the bay overtook the wharf, the mines closed and the piles from the wharf have slowly rotted away.

While I was taking photos of the wharf piles I could hear a low rumble off in the distance. Far out on the edge of the of the water I could see tiny little specs moving about. David had seen the movement too and was looking through the binoculars. I zoomed in on them to see that there were a couple of jeeps and half a dozen quad bikes towing trailers about. This is a zoomed in shot.

It was then that we realised that they must be harvesting cockles commercially. I’d seen a programme awhile ago on Country Calendar and when I checked it out I found that a company based nearby were collecting "Littleneck Clams" or what we used to call cockles. The harvesting looked pretty intrusive, a scoop collecting the mud, transporting it up a small conveyor belt of sorts, spitting out the cockles into a bin on the back. The quad bikes had a row of trailers on the back with the fast filling bags. This is the zoomed in shot now heavily cropped! And that's part of Farewell Spit in the background on the left.

And finally here are two more old decaying wharves. That shallow Golden Bay has a lot to answer for!

This is the old Collingwood Wharf, it’s located on the ocean side of the town, by the 1930s the wharf was “high & dry” (this is at near high tide). A new wharf was then built on the inside of the town in the estuary but that also silted up fast and by the mid 1940s could no longer be used commercially.

Back towards Takaka is the tiny settlement of Onekaka which was once a major industrial area. During the 1920-30s local iron ore was turned into pig-iron and iron pipes at the Onekaka Ironworks and shipped from Onekaka wharf. Between 1922 and 1935, over 80,000 tons of iron was produced, with up to 180 men being employed. These rusting & rotting piles are all that remains of the wharf built by the Onekaka Iron & Steel Company.

There are other remains of old wharves in the area which I haven’t managed to visit. Yet.


  1. I am loving your posts :-) especially the ones about Golden Bay. Last time I was down there was 1976! I loved it there, although haven't seen as much as you. We did drive to the Cobb dam, what a road! Also walked to Pillar Point, and went on a truck ride out to the lighthouse at Farewell Spit. We stayed at Pohara Beach, and also drove out to Totaranui. This is definitely a part of the country I want to visit again sometime. Thank you for "showing" it to me again :-)

    1. I don't expect much has changed since 1976 although I'm glad the ride out to Farewell Spit isn't on the back of a truck any longer! Glad you've enjoyed reminiscing and thanks for leaving a comment.


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