Up close with fur seal pups in Golden Bay

Last weekend, Steve and I made the journey over Takaka hill and into Golden Bay – a beautiful coastal area at the top of the South Island. We were picking up some (more) kayaks, and decided to make a weekend of it and revisit Wharariki beach on the wild west coast. This beach is famous for its tidal pools that are home to seal pups who hang out in the warm calm water, whilst their mums go out into the water and hunt. Last time we visited with our friends it was blowing a hoolie and raining – and there wasnt a seal to be seen. This time was a very different story! We parked up and made the 10 minute walk down to the beach. Wharariki is such a unique place – the sand is carved into dunes and ridges by the wind and waves that slam into it from the Tasman sea. Its stoic stone arches are a worthy replacement for Taranaki’s elephant rock which lost its trunk not so long ago.


Toward the centre of the beach, just at the water line is a group of rock pools which are home to resident fur seal pups. These pups were so inquisitive and loved showing off to the small crowd who had gathered to watch them. Distance is always something I struggle with as a photographer because I have to balance my urge to get a great shot against the need to keep a safe distance from the natural habitat of the animal I photographing. Conservation is upmost in my mind and the safety of the animal I am observing is always paramount to me. When we walked up to the seals, I was a little taken a back by how close people were and wondered if I should say something to encourage people to stand back. However, it soon became obvious that the pups weren’t bothered at all, and were actually very happy showing off to their audience. The audience was also very respectful and kept quiet and passive and moved back if the seals came too close. That being said, it was great to be able to set up my GoPro and then stand back well out of the way. I think this video proves that you don’t need to be up close to get the perfect footage! If you’re looking to get into wildlife photography / video, and don’t have thousands to spend, I’d thoroughly recommend the Go Pro Hero 5

Pretty cute huh?!

I also filled a memory card with photos, I picked a few below and hope you enjoy them!


Wharariki beach is an awesome day out, and can be accessed via a short walk. it is also very close to Farewell Spit, one of the largest sandbanks in the world – and home to some incredible wading birds, including the Bar Tailed Godwit. You could visit both the Spit and the seals in Wharariki in one day – making for an epic trip! If you’d like to check out Farewell Spit from the comfort of a warm bus, the team at Farewell Spit Eco Tours offer an unparalleled opportunity for bird watching and photography. If you take a trip – or can recommend anywhere else for me to visit in the top of the South – let me know in the comments below!

Until the next adventure!



2 comments on “Up close with fur seal pups in Golden Bay”
  1. Ester says:

    Looks perfect!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Ester!! It was so lovely. The perfect setting for such a cool experience.

      Liked by 1 person

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