Just north of Haast, on the wild west coast of the South Island lies a perfect picnic stop en route
to points north or south. There is an inland hike and coastal hike with informative placards on
the local history and ecology. The long, wide beach is perfectly walkable and the parking,
bathrooms and picnic tables make this a fantastically convenient pullover spot.
If you are lucky like us, you may just have an opportunity to swim with dolphins just off the
coast. When we visited in November of 2017, there was a pod of the rare Hector’s Dolphins
surfing in the waves. My daughter and I quickly made the decision to join them. We watched
for a break in the waves and waded into the frigid turquoise waters of the Tasman Sea to swim
towards this pod of wild dolphins. As a way of encouragement, a man towards the shore said
that we should make clicking noises to attract them once we’re in. Duly noted. We timed our
entry in between wave sets, got up the courage and easily swam past the break. Once I could
finally catch my breath about fifty feet off shore, I started making a frantic clicking noise and
looked back to my husband on the beach to direct us toward the dolphins. My daughter and I
swam side-by- side for more than twenty minutes next to these gorgeous creatures with squeals
of delight shared between us. They never surfaced closer than five feet away, but we could feel
them and hear them swirling underneath. The click click sounds at our feet were one of the
highlights of my life.
I can’t guarantee that the dolphins will be there for you too, but there’s plenty of mystery and
windswept wild for any other adventure to surface.
Text Credit: Annika Paradise
The Ship Creek area provides a splendid example of ancient kahikatea swamp forest.