Bleak, exposed and positively sci-fi, Farewell Spit is a wetland of international importance and a renowned bird sanctuary – the summer home of thousands of migratory waders, notably the godwit, Caspian tern and Australasian gannet. Walkers can explore the first 4km of the spit via a network of tracks (see DOC's Farewell Spit & Puponga Farm Park brochure; $2 or download from www.doc.govt.nz). Beyond that point access is limited to trips with the brilliant Farewell Spit Tours, scheduled according to tides.
The spit's 35km beach features colossal, crescent-shaped dunes, from where panoramic views extend across Golden Bay and a vast low-tide salt marsh.
At the foot of the spit is a hilltop visitor-centre-cum-cafe – a convenient spot to write a postcard over a coffee, especially on an inclement day.