North of Collingwood the road skirts Ruataniwha Inlet, and, after 10km, passes The Innlet. The road now follows the coast 11km to Puponga, at the northern tip of the South Island, where you can stay at the excellent Farewell Gardens Motor Camp. Around 2km on is Puponga Farm Park, a coastal sheep farm open to the public; check out the visitor centre.

From the Puponga Farm Park, there are great views right along Farewell Spit – named by Captain Cook at the end of a visit in 1770 – which stretches 25km east, often heaped with tree trunks washed up from the West Coast. The whole vast sand bank is a nature reserve of international importance, with salt marshes, open mudflats, brackish lakes and bare dunes providing habitats for over a hundred bird species: bartailed godwit, wrybill, long-billed curlew and Mongolian dotterel all come to escape the Arctic winter, and there are breeding colonies of Caspian terns, and large numbers of black swans. Sadly, the unusual shape of the coastline seems to fool whales’ navigation systems and beachings are common.

Short walks head to the outer beach (2.5km) and the inner beach (4km); both provide good views of the spit, which is otherwise off-limits except on guided tours from Collingwood.

Book through Rough Guides’ trusted travel partners

New Zealand features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

Everything you need to know about backpacking New Zealand

Everything you need to know about backpacking New Zealand

New Zealand’s craggy coastline and beautiful national parks beg to be explored. The scenery gets more spectacular around every corner, with beaches, vineyards…

21 Nov 2017 • Rachel Mills insert_drive_file Article
The most beautiful country in the world – as voted by you

The most beautiful country in the world – as voted by you

There's nothing like an amazing view to inspire you to book your next trip, whether you're drawn by rolling countryside, isolated islands or soaring mountain …

30 Aug 2017 • Rough Guides Editors camera_alt Gallery
24 breaks for bookworms

24 breaks for bookworms

1. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas In 1971, fuelled by a cornucopia of drugs, Hunter S. Thompson set off for Las Vegas on his “savage journey to the heart of …

02 Mar 2017 • Eleanor Aldridge camera_alt Gallery
View more featureschevron_right

Weekly newsletter

Sign up now for travel inspiration, discounts and competitions

Sign up now and get 20% off any ebook