An untamed slice of the Canterbury coastline can be found at Kaitorete Spit. It is a narrow finger of sand and gravel nearly 30 km in length, created from materials eroded by rivers on the Canterbury Plains and carried north by shore currents. It forms a barrier between Lake Ellesmere and the Pacific Ocean. It is home to an abundance of bird and plant life, and also mineral and gem stones that wash up after big storms.
At the eastern end of The Spit is the small fishing settlement of Birdlings Flat.