Winter haul out time at Red Rocks

It’s haul out time at Red Rocks for bachelors that have been out-suited by more dominant male seals. They are making the most of basking on the rocks, resting up through the winter months. Up to 150 of them will spend the winter months on the Capital’s South Coast.

Seal haul out time

Today, Sophie, Alice and I made the most of a fine winter’s morning to drive Te Kopahou Reserve from the Owhiro Bay information centre. I have walked the 2-hour return track in the past, even taking young Charlotte when she was just 6 week’s old, but this time round we made use of our 4WD and I carefully drove along the gravel road (and tried not to feel guilty about mucking up the fine, clean exterior of the car after Dan and Charlotte washed it on Sunday).

Sophie enjoy a drive on the wild side!

It’s been a long time since I’ve enjoyed the stunning scenery of this part of Wellington’s South Coast. Sophie loved the exciting adventure and Alice crashed to sleep on the return drive – managing to sleep through the wild bumps and jerks as I maneuvered around rocks and drift wood on the narrow gravel road.

The gravel road

The brilliant red hue of ‘Red Rocks’ is stunning, set against the wild coastal scenery.

Red Rocks

“The Red Rocks are ancient pillow lava formed 200 million years ago by undersea volcanic eruptions. Small amounts of iron oxides give the rocks their distinctive colouring.

Maori folklore tells two stories relating to the colour of the rocks. In one, Kupe – the famous Polynesian explorer – was gathering paua (shellfish) here when one clamped his hand. He bled and stained the rocks red. In the other story, the red is the blood of Kupe’s daughters. Fearing for their father’s safety on a long voyage, they gashed themselves in grief over his absence.” Source – 100% Pure New Zealand

Continuing on from Red Rocks we parked up at Sinclair Head to see the New Zealand fur seal colony. We didn’t have quite the right vehicle to tackle this part of the track!

Sinclair Head NZ fur seal colony

There were plenty of seals visible and I had to caution Sophie to make sure she didn’t get between a seal and the sea. Some of them were so camouflaged against the rocks that we didn’t know we were there until we were almost upon them!

Sophie within metres of a NZ fur seal

We enjoyed watching the seals for a while, before Alice started to get tired and the smell got too much to bear!

NZ Fur seals on Wellington's South Coast

We’ll definitely be returning for another visit soon. The bachelor pad was definitely a happy place in the sun today and the chaps looked most relaxed basking on the rocks.

And Sophie gave unschooling a big thumbs up – I thought she’d get sick of me within a week 😉

She came home and wrote in her journal, practiced hand-writing, drew pictures and was full of smiles (even helped to tidy up one of Alice’s ‘trails’ of destruction). We finished up the day by meeting up with Charlotte at the playground after school, where we quickly exhausted ourselves with a few games of tag. I couldn’t help reflecting on the marvellous morning we’d had together and how nice it would be to bask like a seal for a quiet hour or two.

Sophie at the cutting (no way was I driving over that!)


If you’re visiting Wellington and don’t feel like walking out to the seals then check out the fabulous Seal Coast Safari tour. I haven’t been on it myself, but it looks amazing and I really fancy doing it one day – as my vehicle just won’t get over the tougher terrain like a serious 4WD!

(Please note, I haven’t been sponsored to say this, I’d just really like to see more of the rugged coastal scenery of Wellington’s South Coast one day!).