Tag Archives: Pacific Ocean

Ocean Beach, Hawkes Bay

Although it is in the Hawkes Bay region, it is south of the bay itself, and therefore Ocean Beach is situated on the coast of the South Pacific Ocean.

Looking south
Looking south

There is a small community of around 30 houses south of Waikoukou Stream. The pic above is from just in front of the car park.

Looking north
Looking north

The sand stretches about 8km to the north, all the way to Cape Kidnappers.

South Pacific Ocean
South Pacific Ocean

There’s a picnic table about a 20-30 minute walk north from the car park.  In the picture below you can see the grassy sand just behind the beach.

Ocean Beach
Ocean Beach

We reached a second stream, and the sun went down behind a high hill closer to the ocean. It was immediately colder, and we turned back.

Ocean Beach
Ocean Beach

In the picture below you can see a farm located just behind the beach.  This is probably the source of the 4-wheeler tracks.

Farm on the beach
Farm on the beach

The Ocean Beach Kiwi Surf Life Saving Club patrols the beach in the summer.  Surfing is popular here as well as swimming.  In the pic below you can see the road up from the beach.

Ocean Beach Kiwi Surf Life Saving Club
Ocean Beach Kiwi Surf Life Saving Club

We stopped at the lookout over the beach on our way out.  A couple of young girls were just setting out for a walk along the ridge.

The beach from above
The beach from above

The sun may have set on Ocean Beach, but the surrounding hills were bathed in that great evening light.  The whole drive through the hills of Tuki Tuki and Ocean Beach is very scenic, with bright green grass and limestone cliffs.

Golden hour
Golden hour

There are no shops at Ocean Beach, so it has a nice remote feel, especially if you take a long walk to the north.  There were very few people around on a Monday.

Please enjoy the full gallery of 12 pictures below.  To view on imgur click here.

The Big Smoke

I haven’t personally ever heard Auckland referred to as “The Big Smoke”.  But over the course of last summer, traveling around the South Island, I got to hear a lot of what kiwis outside of Auckland think about New Zealand‘s largest city.

Harbor Bridge and Sky Tower
Harbor Bridge and Sky Tower from Birkenhead Warf

A while back I was having drinks with a native Aucklander who was having endless fun with all of the many easily ridiculed aspects of the USA – easier than usual after the 2016 elections.  Eventually I reminded him that the term “JAFA” is used in the rest of New Zealand to mean both “Just Another F*cking American” and “Just Another F*cking Aucklander” …that for the rest of New Zealand, Aucklanders and Americans are kind of in the same category.  His response was a surprised “You get that!”

Guide books more or less advise tourists to sleep off the jet lag, buy any needed supplies, and head out of Auckland.  But Auckland is part of New Zealand, and it is highly underrated.

Central Auckland at night
Central Auckland at night from Bayswater Marina

In Defense of Auckland

I don’t really want to get into the list of negatives attributed to Auckland, or even to defend Auckland from those claims.  Fortunately, I’m able to link to a blog post that does that beautifully.  It is better in many ways than anything I could have written.  It offers a native’s perspective* on the debate, and offers insight on how taboo it is to say anything positive about Auckland, among kiwis outside of Auckland.  Consensus is enforced by browbeating on a number of topics in New Zealand, and this article offers some insight into this aspect of kiwi culture.

Most importantly, the link above tells us in detail what non-Aucklanders think of Auckland, and does a good job of setting the record straight.

I couldn’t have said it better.  But maybe I can add something to it.

* (Correction!  StoriesThatAreTrue is a travel blog written by Gemma Tarlach, an author (and much more) from the USA.)

Rangitoto Island from Narrow Neck Beach
Rangitoto Island from Narrow Neck Beach

More Than Just a City

It is important to point out that Auckland is the name for both a city with a population of 1,454,300, which constitutes 32 percent of New Zealand’s population, and one of the sixteen regions of New Zealand, with by far the biggest population and economy of any region of New Zealand, but the second-smallest land area.

I have never heard anyone mention this distinction though.  For Aucklanders, other kiwis, tourists… for everyone I’ve ever met… Auckland is Auckland.

Both city and region are governed by the Auckland Council, which began operating on 1 November 2010, combining the functions of the previous regional council and the region’s seven city and district councils into one “super council” governing a “super city”.  This is probably the most important blurring of any remaining distinctions between city and region.

Auckland is about the size of The Greater Los Angeles Area, with fewer than 2 million people.

Rangitoto Island and the Sky Tower from the Waitakere Ranges
Rangitoto Island and the Sky Tower from the Waitakere Ranges

What Else Is Auckland?

Auckland is New Zealand – a place of awesome natural beauty.

Auckland is Piha.

Lion Rock, Piha Beach, Te Waha Point in the distance
Lion Rock, Piha Beach, Te Waha Point in the distance

Auckland is also Whatipu.

Whatipu Beach
Whatipu Beach

Auckland is all of the other great west coast Tasman Sea beaches well.

O'Neill Beach and Bethell's Beach
O’Neill Beach and Bethell’s Beach

Auckland is Tawharanui.

Tawharanui Open Sanctuary
Tawharanui Open Sanctuary

Auckland is all of the east coast, Pacific Ocean and Hauraki Gulf beaches, like Pakiri Beach in the north.

Pakiri Beach
Pakiri Beach

Auckland is Tawhitokino Beach on the southeast coast.

Tawhitokino Beach
Tawhitokino Beach

Auckland is the forests and mountains of the Waitakere Ranges in the west.

Waitakere Dam
Waitakere Dam

Auckland is the mountains and bush of the Hunua Ranges in the east.

Cosseys Reservoir in the Hunua Ranges
Cosseys Reservoir in the Hunua Ranges

In the past 2 years I’ve taken you to almost all of Auckland’s 34 Regional Parks, and I’ve recently created a page to help you navigate my many posts about those parks.  Follow the link above for 34 beautiful things that Auckland is.

There are few things I’ve enjoyed more than the North Shore Coastal Walk, with its rock shelves and tree-lined cliffs and constant changing views of Rangitoto Island.

Browns Bay, Auckland
Browns Bay, Auckland

Rangitoto Island is not just a nice bit of scenery visible from Auckland, Rangitoto Island is Auckland!  Rangitoto is a beautiful place to visit, and returns the favor by offering fantastic views of the city.

Devonport, CBD and Harbor Bridge from Rangitoto Island
Devonport, CBD and Harbor Bridge from Rangitoto Island

Auckland is Waiheke Island.

Matiatia Bay on Waiheke Island
Matiatia Bay on Waiheke Island

Because Auckland is also a large city you get interesting cultural events in beautiful natural settings, like Sculpture on the Gulf on Waiheke Island.

Sculpture on the Gulf, Waiheke Island
Sculpture on the Gulf, Waiheke Island

Because Auckland is a very diverse city it offers events like the Lantern Festival, one of many opportunities to enjoy Chinese culture in New Zealand.

Auckland Lantern Festival
Auckland Lantern Festival

Many ethnic groups from all corners of the world have a presence in Auckland, making it by far the country’s most cosmopolitan city. Europeans make up the majority of Auckland’s population, however substantial numbers of Māori, Pacific Islander and Asian peoples exist as well. Auckland has the largest Polynesian population of any city in the world.
Wikipedia

I haven’t been to Auckland’s Pasifika Festival.  I’ll try to remedy that in 2017.

Cook Island dancers at Auckland's Pasifica Festival
Cook Island dancers at Auckland’s Pasifica Festival – from Wikimedia Commons

Auckland has the spectacular Auckland Civic Theatre.  I’ll have to remember to post about this awesome place.

The Civic
The Civic

Auckland may not have the wildlife that the South Island has.  But it does have a great array of New Zealand’s native birds.

Tui
Tui

And naturalized birds as well.

Eastern rosella
Eastern rosella

I did meet a young seal on the coast below JFK Park.

Seal
Seal

There is a lone leopard seal that has moved into Auckland’s harbor.  She’s been here since at least June of 2015.

Leopard seal - from Wikimedia Commons
Leopard seal – from Wikimedia Commons

I’ve been trying to get a look at this seal, but haven’t had any luck so far.

DOC notice about Auckland's leopard seal
DOC notice about Auckland’s leopard seal

It Gets Better

I can’t really finish what I set out to do with this post, at this time – because it is possible, even likely, that I haven’t yet seen the best that Auckland has to offer.  I plan to remedy that in 2017.

I’ve booked 2 nights on Tiritiri Matangi Island, with its abundance of threatened and endangered birds and reptiles.  I look forward to the dawn chorus of native birds, and with a little luck I might get to meet little spotted kiwi, little blue penguins, tuatara, and other rare wildlife.

Little blue penguin - from tiritirimatangi.org.nz
Little blue penguins – from tiritirimatangi.org.nz

I hope to visit Kawau Island, with its four species of wallaby.

Dama wallaby - from Wikimedia Commons
Dama wallaby – from Wikimedia Commons

And kookaburra!

Kookaburra - from kawauisland.org.nz
Kookaburra – from kawauisland.org.nz

Wallaby are tenacious pests that do extensive damage to Kawau Island, but before they are eradicated, I want to see kangaroos in Auckland.  Of course Kawau Island offers a lot of native, less destructive reasons to visit as well.

I’ll post soon about my recent visit to Rangitoto Island.  Rangitoto is one huge pohutukawa forest, so I may decide to go back very soon to see them all in bloom.

Rangitoto Island
Rangitoto Island

I want to make it out to Great Barrier Island and ideally spend a couple of weeks there.

A view over the eastern coast of Great Barrier Island, from a ridge line in the center of the island
A view over the eastern coast of Great Barrier Island, from a ridge line in the center of the island – from Wikimedia Commons

Whakanewha is the only regional park I haven’t posted about, and it is located on Waiheke IslandSculpture on the Gulf is coming up, from January 26 through February 19.  There are many other places I need to visit on Waiheke as well.

The Hauraki Gulf has over 50 islands, and I plan to visit a number of others that I haven’t mentioned above.

By the middle of 2017 I hope to be a much greater authority on Auckland, and in a greatly improved position to show you what is really great about The Big Smoke!

My favorite spot in New Zealand was likely destroyed in the recent earthquakes

The Ohau Point New Zealand Fur Seal Colony on the Pacific Coast just north of Kaikoura was destroyed by a landslide in the recent earthquake, and it seems likely that my favorite spot in all of New Zealand, the Ohau Stream Waterfall, was destroyed as well.

Photo of the landslide at Ohau Point from the article
Photo of the landslide at Ohau Point from the article “Famous seal breeding ground destroyed by quake” on Stuff.co.nz

It is likely some seals were killed in the landslides.

It was fortunate timing, however, as many would have been out at sea feeding ahead of pupping season.

It was unlikely there were pups at the waterfall at the time of the earthquake, Morrissey said.

The waterfall was not yet accessible, so it was unclear if it remained intact, but due to the surrounding damage it was unlikely to have survived.

When the seals returned in the coming weeks they would not recognise their home, Morrissey said.

“Those seals generally come back to the area where they were born. They’ll go in there and it won’t be like anywhere they recognise before, so they’ll probably just go and breed on other parts of the coast.”

The colony will likely return at some stage, albeit in a different form.
“Famous seal breeding ground destroyed by quake”, Stuff.co.nz

Ohau Point Seal Colony
Ohau Point Seal Colony in February 2016

Since many seals probably survived, the seal colony itself will have survived in some form as well, but the Ohau Stream Waterfall is a unique place, and if destroyed, is a huge loss.

Ohau Stream Waterfall in February 2016
Ohau Stream Waterfall in February 2016

The waterfall, pool, and the small glade around them are a special place at any time of year, but between April and October the place becomes a baby seal daycare, as their mothers leave them to frolic in the pool while they go out to fish in the Pacific Ocean.

I read online that someone had seen the carpark at the start of the short walk to the waterfall intact, so there is some hope that the waterfall and stream survived.  I really hope to see this place again!

Curious seal pup at Ohau Stream Waterfall
Curious seal pup at Ohau Stream Waterfall

Search “Ohau” for all of my various posts about this great little spot.

Search “Kaikoura” for all of my posts about the whole area.

If the Ohau Waterfall pool is lost forever, it is reminiscent of the Pink and White Terraces, natural wonders of New Zealand, reportedly the largest silica sinter deposits on earth, lost and thought destroyed in the 1886 eruption of Mount Tarawera.  Read this article on the always helpful Wikipedia for more on the Pink and White Terraces and their partial rediscovery.

White Terraces, New Zealand, Charles Blomfield (1848–1926) - from Wikimedia Commons
White Terraces, New Zealand, Charles Blomfield (1848–1926) – from Wikimedia Commons

The coastline around Kaikoura has been altered forever, with the seabed in the area raised a meter or more in places by the quake.

Waipapa bay before and after November 14, 2016 earthquake
Waipapa bay before and after November 14, 2016 earthquake

Aerial photographs (above) show the before and after seabed uplift north of Kaikoura – estimated to be between 2 – 2.5 metres.
Photo Credit: Tonkin+Taylor (@TonkinTaylor) [https://pbs.twimg.com/media/CxRXBeWVEAA1Oms.jpg]
Photo Credit: Ryan Gold (@runr447)
[https://pbs.twimg.com/media/CxUNkWmUoAAEv80.jpg]
New Zealand, South Island Earthquake November 14, 2016
East Coast South Island; 91km northeast Christchurch; Kaikoura 

Even without a “before” picture it’s easy to see where the coastline used to be, and the new upraised land.

Seabed uplift caused by November 14, 2016 earthquake
Seabed uplift caused by November 14, 2016 earthquake 

Aerial photographs (above) show the seabed uplift north of Kaikoura – estimated to be between 2 – 2.5 metres.
Photo Credit: Tonkin+Taylor (@TonkinTaylor) [https://pbs.twimg.com/media/CxRXB1YVEAA_ipz.jpg]
New Zealand, South Island Earthquake November 14, 2016
East Coast South Island; 91km northeast Christchurch; Kaikoura

Today I was told that locals were recently out moving hundreds of paua, left high and dry by the changes to the coast, in hopes of saving the local population, and eating dozens of local lobsters, while worrying that they might be the last from the area for some time.

For more pictures of Kaikoura’s altered coastline, click here.
Also see this article in the New Zealand Herald.

The video below shows an attempt to drive from Parnassus to Kaikoura.  One of the two tunnels just south of Kaikoura is open, but he doesn’t make it much further.

Google Maps, characteristically up to date, doesn’t currently show SH 1 as an option for this trip.