We travelled from east coast to west coast in a few hours in Auckland to view some volcanic features. On the calm waters of the east coast at Takapuna Beach, we saw Rangitoto Island, a volcanic that erupted only 500 years ago.
The sand on this beach is sandy at least, and full of shell bits. It’s not a bad place to stroll down, even on a showery day.
The west coast beaches of course were completely different. We visited Muriwai Beach to view the basalt columns on the cliff-face.
With its black sand, biting winds and roaring surf, it was certainly a wild and woolly place.
A few weeks after we returned from Europe via Singapore, we packed our bags again. Hubby was leading a 10 day geology school group tour of the North Island of New Zealand, and I once again tagged along.
It was mid-winter, and Auckland was a bit chilly, although nothing like what it had been in Europe, and showery. We started off by visiting Mt Eden and its extinct volcano crater. Auckland is full of these extinct craters, although these volcanoes oozed rather than exploded.
In the distance we could see other ‘mounds’, which were other volcanoes. Nowadays they are surrounded by suburbia. Luckily they are well and truly extinct!
And finally, we are at sea. The next patch of dry land is Australia, over 3,000km away.
We dip our feet in the cold water. Watch the breakers roll in. Enjoy the moment.
Thus, we come to the end of our journey at KareKare. Well, not quite.
How did I find out about this magical place in the first place? Through a little film called The Piano, where the beach is definitely the star. For all those who have seen it and thought that the beach was so picturesque due to the work of a good cinematographer, well, the camera in this case only captured the truth.
Finally, we reach the tide mark. White salt on black sand. Sea spray of fog-like proportions from the sheer pounding of the Tasman Sea. Disappearing footprints in the quicksand. Biting, whirling winds.
It reminds me of an old Crowded House song called Fingers of Love, which was incidently recorded in a house behind this beach. It captures the mood of this beach perfectly.
We pass chunks of driftwood, washed up by the sea, bleached white by the elements. They provide a stark contrast to the black sand that surrounds them. They are endlessly fascinating to study and beautiful to look at.
Leaving the cabbage palms behind, we reach the beach proper. The first thing that struck me was the immensity of the place: the soaring hills in mist, a desert of black sand that is a reminder of KareKare’s volcanic past.
Continuing on our journey to Karekare beach…
We cross the black sand dunes, through strands of cabbage palms. The black sand is a muddy black after the week’s rains, but on a summer’s day the quartz glitters and becomes positively scorching.
Getting to KareKare Beach from the carpark involves a bit of a walk. Firstly under a canopy of kanuka (or tea tree to us Aussies).
I watched a delightful film at the Sydney Film Festival last week called The Strength of Water. It’s about two Maori kids growing up in remote Northland.
It’s wonderful what can be done with non-professional actors, especially children. In this film the film-makers really brought out the best in them and the landscape they inhabited.
It brings to mind all the strikingly beautiful places I visited last October on my journey around Northland, where the film was shot, particularly Hokianga and the West Auckland black sand beaches. To illustrate, here are my two favourite shots from the trip:
At the head of Hokianga Harbour.
Driftwood on KareKare Beach, west of Auckland.
Black as mud
Sea spray wisps
From pummelling sea
Into majestic cliffs
Like dinosaur bones
Bleached against black
Smell, feel, taste
My soul to soar
Drawfed as am I
By such magnificence