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The road that heads west along the South Island’s northern shores comes to an end at the sleepy town of Collingwood.

Cape Farewell, New ZealandThis tiny settlement receives a fraction of the visitors who throng to nearby Nelson, but provides access to one of New Zealand’s best kept secrets — Farewell Spit. This expanse of protected beach and natural wetland is home to thousands of migratory wading birds.

Thankfully, due to its worldwide importance, it is a strictly protected sanctuary and accessible only on a guided tour.

Eco tours to Farewell Spit

On a tour to the Spit you get the chance to visit the only sea-level gannet colony in the world; Cape Farewell Eco Tours have the only license which allows this kind of access. Along the way you stop at the Spit lighthouse, to learn how it worked and explore the lighthouse keeper's century old house.

Farewell Spit Eco Tours, CollingwoodFinally you reach the Cape. Cape Farewell is the northernmost point of the South Island and the clifftop views of the Tasman Sea and rugged coastline are spectacular. The coastal cliffs are sliced through with fault lines, vertically walled slashes where streams run inland rather than to the sea creating fascinating rock patterns.

There is time on the tour to climb the Barchan Dunes or walk along the wind-driven beaches, and the more adventurous can try a bit of dune-surfing. Throughout the tour you are provided with a comprehensive commentary from the passionate, enthusiastic and extremely knowledgeable guides, and your transport comes in the form of RL Bedfords — rather hefty looking but very comfortable four wheel drive vehicles that can tackle the stunning sand flats.

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