Another languid start to the day, not much point hurrying when high tide is 11 am, ie, low water around 5 pm, just another lazy old morning aided by an intermittent drizzle, enough to keep me snug inspecting the inside of The Coffin, my tent, and astonished by the buildup of dead sandflies after two nights here, a good handful lodged in the corner, almost equally in the amount of coarse-grained sand that’s found its way indoors via my socks.
I watch some sea, there is no discernible rhythm to the waves, long periods of lull, a short set the full length of the beach, followed by a few in a nice beach break near the mouth of my little stream, perhaps the six second maximum ride, they are standing square with an offshore breeze. The bigger waves break far out exhausting themselves before their beach encounter, it’s the quiet unassuming ones that seem to make a full and effortless progress further up the beach.
There’s the usual royal flyby with the gannets, they can cruise as a trio, pair or just the solitary bird and just as I write that a foursome glides by, out for their Sunday afternoon, inches above the crest of the wave, wings flapping, they aren’t actually gliders, then, later, some faster wing beats of the variable oystercatcher, the less vocal variety, black body and red hot beak, they are often busy on the beach, the black backed gulls not, maybe it’s the bird Ramadan for them, I never see them eating in daylight hours. And, of course, the random porpoising of an occasional stray seal along with crests of the almost breaking waves, at times fully emerged from the water, so more lithe in their fluid than lumbering out.
It’s worth an unencumbered climb up the little Wekakura Point saddle to inspect a potential day trip but at the top it’s clear that the coast is entirely tidal, no possibilities to get any further than that hundred metres along a majorly bouldery beach at the bottom of the rope drop and there are a number of very contented looking seals with full looking bellies who would not necessarily welcome my intrusion. The pups hop into and out of the water at will, the older types are much more wary, surveying the shore for a few minutes to locate the belligerent males, two days ago I watched one dad making the acquaintances of its offspring but neither mum nor pop wanted anything to do with him, maintenance payments may have been neglected, a lot of wide open mouth revealing the exact amount of dental work required but judging by the olfactory solidity, ie, quite overpowering, better oral hygiene would be a good place to start for a more social relationship. I count the onshore seals, eight, although that’s not comprehensive, a pup and mom emerge from somewhere, probably 20 seals down amongst those huge rocks, five in the water, one with backflippers protruding, hanging upside down, others rolling corkscrew-style, the water temperature high teens, just about perfect, there’s those back flappers again. It’s remarkable now how they inject themselves gracefully from the water, then how ungainly they are once on the rock, like they are contained by a four-limbed straight jacket.
The landscape is massively spectacular, the underlying geology is granite and the hills drop steeply and immediately either onto a steep sandy beach or directly into the sea via a bouldery interface. There are plenty of rocks and small islands off the coast but all close to the shore, some with windswept shrubbery, the smaller ones with plenty of small mussel shells, they must get burnt off in summer because they are invariably tiny, as the tide goes down the large mussels appear, and the long strands of that most magnificent of the bull kelps, Durvillaea antarctica, I recall from my intertidal investigations of many years ago.
The hillsides are impossibly steep without being cliffs, covered in an almost impenetrable kiekie, flax, nikau palms and forest trees where more sheltered, the tops of the hills dissolve cliche-like into low cloud, it’s really is the full picture. And then there’s the occasional whiff from those seals below, more have now changed position, there’s gotta be 30 down there.← Day 6 | Stream before Wekakura Point again Day 8 | Back to the Heaphy campsite →