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Introducing Collingwood & Around

Far-flung Collingwood (population 250) is the last town in this part of the country, and has a real end-of-the-line vibe. It’s busy in summer, though for most people it’s simply a launch pad for the Heaphy Track or trips to Farewell Spit.

The Collingwood Museum fills a tiny, unstaffed corridor with a quirky collection of saddlery, Maori artefacts, moa bones, shells and old typewriters, while the Aorere Centre next-door houses multimedia presentations, including the works of the wonderful pioneer photographer, Fred Tyree.

No Collingwood visit would be complete without visiting Rosy Glow. Chocoholics: this is your cue. Don't miss it!

A foray to Farewell Spit is essential. From there, follow the sign to Wharariki Beach (6km unsealed road, then a 20-minute walk through Puponga Farm Park). It’s a wild introduction to the West Coast, with mighty dune formations, looming rock islets just offshore and a seal colony at its eastern end (keep an eye out for seals in the stream on the walk here). As inviting as a swim here may seem, there are strong undertows – what the sea wants, the sea shall have…

Befitting a frontier, this is the place to saddle up: Cape Farewell Horse Treks. Treks in this wind-blown country range from 1½ hours (to Pillar Point) to three hours (to Wharariki Beach), with longer (including overnight) trips by arrangement.

On the road to Wharariki Beach you'll pass Wharariki Beach Holiday Park, a pretty, young campground with a pleasant communal building.