The day is foul – a wind howls across the point resisted by only the hardiest of scrubby bushes and toughened grasses. Surf pounds relentlessly into the west coast’s limestone cliffs and volcanic beaches. Brooding dark seas merge into the pewter grey clouds blurring any idea of a horizon, a lonely characterless lighthouse warning all things marine to steer a careful path around this treacherous area. The original 1876 lighthouse was a fine timber building, its gleaming beacon guiding vessels for 50 years before being replaced by the current concrete automated lighthouse. Functional but rather unattractive.

In March 1770 the weather was no different for Captain Cook as Endeavour, at the mercy of the persistent gale-force winds, was blown off-course prompting him to appropriately name the point Cape Foulwind – today only a few kilometres south of the uninspiring town of Westport.

Almost indistinguishable from rocks and driftwood debris thrown by the savage waves, New Zealand Fur Seals luxuriate and relax at nearby Cape Tauranga. Sea spray showers the rocky shoreline, seals basking in the brutal weather conditions. The pockmarked coastline is only distinguishable as a faint greyish line in the murky atmosphere.

In the scrubby foreshore vegetation, western wekas fuss about their bushy hideaways. These plucky birds confidently go about their day oblivious to hiking travellers. Dealt a bad hand, birds like the kiwi and weka evolved into ground dwellers and lost the ability to fly due to the complete absence of mammals and rodents as predators when the continental split happened many millions of years ago. Sadly in the last thousand years as mammals and rodents reached the shores of New Zealand, populations of these wonderful but defenceless feathered creatures were decimated.

On a map as a thin long ribbon of red, SH6 weaves and meanders the full length of the west coast of New Zealand from Nelson in the north to Invercargill in the south. It makes for one of the world’s more inspiring drives with numerous areas of natural beauty – glaciers, fjords, cliffs, panoramic vistas, caves and weird rock formations – only occasionally interrupted by townships.

The west coast of New Zealand gets a considerable share of rough weather and rainfall, conditions which have carved and crafted the evocative coastline. Whether in glistening sunshine or foulwind, the drive down the west coast is an exhilarating natural experience encapsulated by the twin points of Cape Foulwind and Cape Tauranga.



11 Responses to An Appropriate Name (Cape Foulwind, New Zealand)

  • Greg says:

    I wonder if the place is good for surfing. The waves look awesome! Errrm, I can't really find the seal on the first photo :)

  • Mark H says:

    @greg: I saw some folks surf on the west coast of NZ but not in this immediate area. The surf was too erratic for baord riding on this particular day. There are no seals in the top photo (only one of the middle ones), it was a little south of Cape Tauranga though in the same grizzly conditions away from the main area where seals haul-out. All photos can be clicked on to enlarge them to a more decent size.

  • Anonymous says:

    A dramatatic place and you have described the sense of isolation and battering by the elements I felt when there. Great photos.

  • Mark H says:

    @anonymous: It has a truly dramatic feel especially as we were the only people there. The walk up the small hill to the lighthouse helps picture the tough conditions the keepers must have tolerated a century or more ago.

  • Barbara Weibel says:

    So sad they tore down the old wooden lighthouse, but seeing the desolation of the land and reading your description of the weather, I can imagine it was beyond repair. What a top photo!

  • Doc Wends of Journeys and Travels says:

    I loved the scenery, very inspiring and awesome. Felt blessed to have read this post.

    Cheers from the Philippines!

  • Mark H says:

    @barbara: I guess the lighthouse was worn beyond repair and they built a more practical one. Just a shame that the newer one didn't have the same charm.

  • Mark H says:

    @doc wends: Thank you for your kind words. It is a wonderful coastline and I love the contrasts of the beauty and the harshness when the weather turns nasty.

  • luxury french chateaux says:

    Hehehe!! Foulwind.. man that must be some place..

  • Heather Stearns says:

    Your writing is so descriptive that I felt the wind whipping my face and could smell the salt air. Before I travel to New Zealand, I'm going to thoroughly study your site!

  • Mark H says:

    @french chateaux: I love the name too. Foulwind conjures up quite a picture.

    @heather: Thank you for your kind words. The blog will continue travelling around the south island of NZ.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Follow Travel Wonders
Welcome to Travel Wonders
My name is Mark and I’m a keen traveller. In fact, over the last 25 years, I’ve travelled to every continent and over 80 countries. This blog is about the most memorable destinations – the places I regard as the travel wonders of the world. I’m also a keen photographer, and have taken nearly all the photos you’ll see. During my travels, I’ve met some incredible people, seen inspiring places, viewed extraordinary wildlife and scenery and had some amazing experiences, and I’m writing these stories not only to entertain but primarily to inspire others to discover their own travel wonders.
Awards and Affiliations