Tauranga Bay, Cape Foulwind

Image: Baptiste Maryns | ©


Explore the coastline while visiting the main attraction - the New Zealand fur seal. A close but safe view allows you to watch the seals swimming, dozing in the sun and feeding their young.

Place overview


  • Bird and wildlife watching
  • Walking and tramping

Find things to do and places to stay Cape Foulwind area

About this place

Nature and conservation

Cape Foulwind is a popular place to spend time enjoying the sea air, exploring the coastline and visiting the rookery of kekeno - the New Zealand fur seal. 

The headland is an important site for the seal colony as well as the sooty shearwater - a large sea-going petrel - and blue penguins.

Māori knew the Cape as Tauranga which refers to the sheltered anchorage the bay provided for voyaging canoes (waka). It was also used as a resting place as they travelled the coastal areas by foot and by sea. Abel Tasman sighted the Cape on 14 December 1642 and named it Rocky point. In 1770 it was named a “place of foul winds” by Captain Cook when his ship was beset by gales and wind. Major European settlement began in the 1860’s when the settlers established flax/harakeke and timber mills.

The seal colony is part of a series along the Tauranga Bay-Cape Foulwind-Steeples coastline and is one of six breeding colonies on the West Coast. The fur seals have chosen Cape Foulwind to breed because of its rocky shore with suitable ‘haul-out’ spots and food rich sea.

The sooty shear water/tītī, reduced to almost extinction on the mainland of New Zealand, has a small colony surviving on this headland. Somehow a small number of breeding pairs have managed to survive through clearing, burning and farming. These birds are fully protected. The adult birds come ashore in October to begin their breeding cycle, hatching occurs mostly in late January with the chicks fledging by about May.

Getting there

Cape Foulwind and Tauranga Bay are on the coastline about 16 km southwest of Westport on SH67A Cape Foulwind Road.

To get to Tauranga Bay, follow SH67A Cape Foulwind Road for approximately 11 km and turn left onto Tauranga Bay Road and follow for another 5 km.  When you get to the Tauranga Bay Stop Sign, turn right and follow the road until you reach the Seal Colony Carpark.

The Cape Foulwind Walkway is best started from the end of the Cape Foulwind Road. The walkway finishes at Tauranga Bay car park. As the walk is one way you will need to arrange transport or return by the same walkway.

Know before you go

On the longer walk you should wear sturdy footwear and take warm windproof clothes.

Along the coastline there are many exposed sections which require care and supervision of children.

Keep to the track so as not to disturb the native vegetation and wildlife.


Paparoa National Park Visitor Centre
Phone:   +64 3 731 1895
Fax:   +64 4 471 1117
Email:   paparoavc@doc.govt.nz
Address:   4294 Coast Road
RD 1
Runanga 7873
Postal Address:   4294 Coast Road
RD 1
Runanga 7873
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