Farewell Spit, at the tip of the South Island, is New Zealand’s longest sand spit (25 km) and a nature reserve. It is an internationally-renowned bird sanctuary with over 90 bird species recorded in the area.
Every spring, thousands of wading birds arrive from the northern hemisphere. Other birds range from black swans to sparrows. Penguins also breed in the area.
The area’s attractions include a historic lighthouse, pa sites, the seals and striking landforms of Wharakiki Beach and a cliff top viewing platform.
The caves, islands, and arches of Wharariki Beach, where seals breed, are among the most dramatic in the country. Behind are constantly shifting dunes and a series of lakes and swamps. The vegetation is diverse, with some very rare plants.
The part of the spit that forms the Ramsar Wetland site, covering 11 388 ha, is managed by the Department of Conservation as a Nature Reserve and Shorebird Network Site. The spit is ramsar site number 103, listed on 13 August 1976. This wetland area is both estuarine and freshwater.