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Westhaven Inlet – Whanganui

The south island’s largest unmodified estuary. Waist deep mud lies beneath eelgrass beds. Winding channels meander through the mud, and soon fill on the incoming tide. The sea then quickly floods the flats, and the cockly, muddy expanse becomes choppy, windswept ocean. Protected by Marine reserve in the south, the fish are still prey to unscrupulous fishermen in the northern arm. Westhaven is a wild, windswept paradise on the west coast of Golden Bay.


westhaven-knuckle-hill-view.jpg Stingrays by the hundred take flight, schools of kawhai leap and tui call in the lowland rainforest which runs from hilltop to southern shores. On North Head the landscape is blasted by sheep farm and thin grass hard nibbled covers sandy soil. Old wooden tram rails carried flax from Mangarakau swamp. Seams of Coal in the tiny Coal islands were used to fuel fires, kahikatea stands milled for butter boxes, and the 1930’s era road completes the ecological trauma from the past.


westhaven-mud.jpgLast time I camped at my favorite, secret, spot, on soft Mahoe leaf fall, on soil blackened by hundreds of Maori pipi-cooking fires, a bittern boomed in the night. Red sunset fell over Rakopi as the tide lapped seaweed carpet. The wind usually picks up by midday, so go boating early.

Walk the mudflat to Pa Point and on to South head. Kayak up Wainui River. Climb Knuckle Hill. Wander at Rakopi to the Sand Islands. Enjoy the wilderness of Westhaven!




Comment from jacob
Time: November 7, 2011, 10:59 am

It is worth noting to people that rakopi is private land as is any access to the beach, mind you we here would rather you didnt advertise the community’s existence or draw people to come trapse around the beach, we have enough issues with burglars and theives as it is, and the less people we have from out of the area, the better. It is a beautiful and idyllic inlet which has no need for tourism or its money or for every joe and his dog to come over. Enough people know already

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