Plan Ahead!! Low-Tide ONLY! Most every tourist on the South island has passed this short stretch of coast, but few stop, as few know about this coastline wonder-walk. The Motukiekie Coast, short as it is, may be the South Island’s MOST DRAMATIC bit of walkable coast!!!!!* Motukiekie is oft-featured on panoramic postcards, but the photographers don’t tell you where this dramatic slice of scenery is located. I will.
Lemme try again in case I wasn’t clear. NOWHERE on this South Island will you find a more interesting, photogenic, and WOW section of beach that you can actually walk. The reason you’ve never heard of it on any of those brochure maps or i-Site rubbish is that it’s free, hard to access, needs planning…and nobody has commercialized it!
Even more so than Punakaiki, where knowing when high tide happens is helpful, knowing low-tide at Motukiekie is imperative—no low-tide, no beach walk. If it ain’t low, you can’t go!!
What Motukiekie’s got here, decorating this little-visited stretch of coast 20km north of Greymouth, is an offshore sea-stack cornucopia, high cliffs and arches and caves and waterfalls and corrugated tidal shelving. Motukiekie at low tide is fricking amazing!! Every month is different at Motukiekie, every day is different!! Each week the tides and Westland storms bring and/or remove heaps of sand and pebbles from Motukiekie, either hiding or revealing the fascinatingly brain-like tidal shelf…and, given Westland’s weather, the rain is probably either pouring or drizzling, thus yielding waterfalls gushing off cliffs and rushing across beach, or mere trickles festooning the ferndraped heights. Another bit of interest on this beach is the rusting collection of cars that have plunged to their deaths from the highway above—yikes.
Here’s why Motukiekie sees few foreign visitors. Most folks are tourists —they bumble around NZ hoping to “see the sights” without expending much effort to find the truly unique uncommercialized spots. Travelers, on the other hand, are fewer. Travelers attempt to find good info about wonderful spots and experiences. Motukiekie is one of those spots. You gotta know where, you gotta know when…and you gotta PLAN AHEAD. Hope to see ya there!!
HIKE: From the roadside car parking, the walk is simple—find a gully down onto the beach then head south towards the sea stacks. But, here’s the rub—the sea blocks the way as it bashes the cliffs, except within 1.5 hours of low-tide. So first, figure out when Greymouth’s low-tide is from any newspaper’s tide charts. Next, plan to begin the walk south on a falling tide only, about 1.5-2 hours before low-tide. The best walk takes about an hour to get to the other side of the seastack point for a look from the other direction (and to see all the caves, arches, waterfalls, etc). At mid-tide you could walk for about 20 minutes and maybe make it to the double arch point, but that’d be just an awful tease. Make a good plan…you’ll have the beach to yourself as the tourists just don’t know, and they won’t be told.
*Abel Tasman may argue, as may Curio Bay, Wharariki Beach, and Kaikoura - but those places are in Lonely Planet and mobbed…come see Motukiekie, just you and your camera!