Farewell Spit - Onetahua - Nature reserve is a bird sanctuary and wetland of
international importance. The spit is around 35km long and public
access is restricted to the first 4km.
Farewell Spit is more strictly protected than a national park.
Vehicle access is granted only to supervised tours. Through sharing the
experience of Farewell Spit we can help to raise public awareness of
this precious ecosystem, so vital for migratory birds.
"Onetahua" is the Maori name for Farewell Spit and translated means
"heaped up sand". Onetahua is also the name chosen for the Golden Bay
Marae which was established in the 1980s.
Come with us to a special place, where you can view the historic Lighthouse and explore its reserve. Our most popular tour is our Farewell Spit Eco tour which departs from Collingwood and visits Cape Farewell, the South Island's most northern point and includes our lighthouse tour. Or join us on a Gannet colony tour or a wader watch tour
to view the summer home to over 90 species of bird including waders,
Bar Tailed godwits, knots, curlews, whimbrels and turnstones.
The tours started as the mail delivery to the Lighthouse keepers and
their families. The lighthouse is automated these days, but the
visitors keep coming - drawn by the special qualities of this unique
spot and by the deep
historical and natural knowledge shared by our local guides.
Our company has been operating on Farewell Spit for more than 60 years and has a permit from the Department of Conservation to enter the reserve. We hold the only permit to visit the Gannet colony beyond the lighthouse and the wader feeding grounds on the inter-tidal plain.
Caring for our Environment
The lunches we provide (on request) are made from local produce, where possible, and packed in recyclable containers made from vegetable products. Recycling bins are provided at the lighthouse for separating recyclable items and food scraps are fed to pigs on a local farm.