Cape Foulwind


Cape Foulwind is a large headland on the West Coast overlooking the Tasman sea just outside of Westport, It is also one of those places that reminded me why I started this website in the first place,

Firstly - its stunning and deserves to be shared
Secondly - The information we found on it (mostly DOC) is misleading and dose not give a true representation of time or distance.
So to start with this place is well worth a visit!!, on a nice day the views are incredible!! but here are a few things we learnt that you will need to keep in mind.

Māori knew Cape Foulwind as Tauranga due to the sheltered anchorage the bay provided for voyaging waka. It was also used as a resting place as they traveled the coastal areas by foot and by sea. Abel Tasman sighted the Cape on 14 December 1642 and named it Rocky point. But in 1770 it was named a “place of foul winds” by Captain Cook when his ship was battered by gales and wind. We learnt about Cape Foulwind via the DOC Toyota Kiwi Guardian adventures when researching for our West Coast 2020 trip. It dose tell you in their small write up that you can access it from two different ends and looking at the map you can see that you walk from a lighthouse road end to a coastal road end. What it does not show it is how far that distance is and well .................... its quite far !! It would be around a 3hr return trip at my best guest. Which we were definitely not prepared or geared for the day we visited.
So we started at the Light house end with the idea that we would walk the track to the coast end and back.......... well that was not going to happen once we seen how far it was.

​At the Lighthouse end we found some signs and information on the track, it turns out that the tracks follows the cost line along to the beach which was shown on the Kiwi Guardian map. What wasn't clear on the Kiwi Guardian map was that it is about a 45min-1hr walk ONE WAY. We were definitely not geared up for that nor had we allowed time for a minimum 2hr return walk also allowing about an hour to explore and find the guardian post at the coastal end.
So that been said we decided to explore the small side track up to the light house (only a 10min walk) we would take in the views and I mean VIEWS !!! they were stunning. Then we would drive around to the other end of the track to explore and find the Kiwi Guardian Post.

This actually worked well and I would suggest if you have young children that this is what you do. In saying that we were a bit gutted to not be able to do the full walk as we had planed. It was a stunning day and would have been an incredible wee adventure had we been able to do it.
But it is back on our list of things to do if we ever go back again - we will either take two cars leaving one at the beach end or allow more time to be able to do the full return trip.


Exploring around the lighthouse was stunning, the views were well amazing !!! It is true West Coast coastal views at its best.

You really need a bit of time to just take it all in, the kids were blown away with the vastness of the sea in front of them and how far you could see.

In the distance you make out the beach end of the walk by the split rock so we knew it was worth going to check it out.

After a bit more ruin exploring and checking out the light house which you had to do a bit of bush bashing to have a look at we then made our way around to the other of the track by the beach - just a short 10min drive.
Around the other end you park up in a very large well laid out car park, complete with toilet block and a coffee stand!!!! Perfect right !!

You can walk down on to a big beautiful beach to explore and off to the side is more walking tracks. Wee note about the beach, the swell is huge and rather rough been it is the Tasman Sea, I would not personally let young kids free range at all. Stick to the wee rock pools and explore their, plenty of spot to get wet with out the risk.

We headed around the small path to the right of the carpark, the views just kept coming !! every where you looked here you got a stunning view of the landscape around you.
Stopping at several point to check out the seals and trying to see if we could spot any dolphins out at sea, we followed the track around till we found the Kiwi Guardian post.
The whole walk was maybe 20-30min to the top of the hill and back again.
The paths were nice and wide so you did not bump in to other people along the way. You could take a pram on most of it if you needed to but you could not go all the way to the top with one.
We headed back down to the car park knowing we could get a nice coffee and an ice block at the bottom which was a extra treat.

We stopped to take in a bit more of the incredible ocean along the way.
I just kept expecting to see a whale or a pod of dolphins swimming by the view seemed almost the perfect setting like something out of a movie.
We had also been told at certain times of the year you can spot a few penguin's who nest their as well.


Cape Foulwind is most definitely worth a visit, if you have the time and are prepared walking from the lighthouse road down to the beach (coast road) would be well worth it. I would allow your self at least 1hr to explore around the light house and walk down to the beach end, then an additional hour on that to explore and walk to the kiwi guardian post as well.

If you had to walk back to your car up at the light house keep in mind that it would be fair amount of up hill so might take a bit longer or you might need more stops if you are with kids. It would be best to take two cars dropping one at the beach end if you were able to.
Otherwise doing it the way we did, driving to each end as we were time poor was just over an 1hr in total.

We could not have picked a better day to see the views, the clear sky meant we could see as far out in to the Tasman sea as possible. The only thing that could have topped it off was to see a whale or a dolphin.

Both ends of the track have toilet blocks which with kids is just a godsend and well planed out.

The tracks and parking areas and well everything is well kept and incredibly tidy I don't recall seeing a single bit of rubbish.
I really hope to come back some time and walk the track, I think this is a spot you could visit a few times and still see some thing new each visit.


Munchkin Review 

"the big sea out the front of us was amazing !! I loved spotting all the stinky seals" Marcus O'Donnell aged 8


Kiwi Guardian Link

Adventure Notes


What to Bring

If you do the full track take good walking shoes, water and a wind breaker. On a nice warm day i would definitely take some togs and let the kids have a splash.

Time and Distance

1hr approx for the trip we did, 2-3hrs if you were to walk the whole track. 3.4km one way for the full track.

Munchkin Info

Although the beach is beautiful it is the wild Tasman see and is very rough, i would not allow kids to swim in the water especially not assisted.



Other Info

No dogs allowed as it is a nesting ground for penguins


- Toilet block at both car parks
- Coffee and Ice Cream shop at the Coastal end

Helpful Links