Tag Archive: beach


a study in leaves and sand

warning, purists: the next two were staged (you’d never guess) and the three after that were mostly black-and-white-ified in photoshop… but i still like them.

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this weekend we celebrated our one-year anniversary.  we still had an outstanding wedding present (outstanding indeed), a mystery weekend away, and decided to cash it in for a getaway in celebration of the past twelve months.  (actually a week early, but who’s counting?  … er, obviously, we are.)
our destination turned out to be a lovely bach on orua bay, at the northern tip of the awhitu peninsula.  the bach was only accessible for two hours at low tide (by driving along the beach), so once we arrived on friday afternoon, we were in for the weekend.  and it was blissful.  we only saw other people from a distance, strolling on the beach.  the manic rain-and-shine weather was perfect for reading, watching movies, beachwalking, and cuddling up on the old couch on the porch, sheltered by an overhanging roof and about 20m from the water’s edge (depending on tide).  tuis sang all day and kingfishers perched on the power lines, watching for their dinner in the waves lapping below.  herons strutted and seagulls dropped unlucky seastars and shellfish on the rocks.
we discovered the long-beached hulk of a small sailboat, nearly snarled in the roots of an overhanging pohutukawa tree; under the roots was a cave fully tall enough to stand up in.  we watched the sunrise on saturday morning, then went back to sleep until 11.  we followed the decadent menu our friends had planned and provided for us, prowled the exposed seagrass beds and pools at low tide, napped, and lounged around in companionable sloth.
do we really have to wait one more whole year for the next one?

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golden sands

last post about australia for now, i swear.  i just want to wrap it up with a few shots from the coast, since we went for a couple of good walks on the beaches.  we all know i have a thing for sand, so it seems only fitting.  plus this was the kind of squeaky sand that sounds like corduroy rubbing against itself when you walk through it.  i'm sure no one i was with got at all tired of me scuffing my feet.

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back on the horse

i went riding again yesterday – same place, different horse.  the weather was rotten all weekend (much like the rest of last week) and our original plan to ride on sunday was foiled by hail and thunderstorms, but luckily our visiting itinerant canadians flew out late enough yesterday to squeeze in a morning ride.  and the day was glorious.

we were greeted as we drove up by a cute clydesdale foal keeping guard at the gate, all shaggy feet and whiskers, and by a fiery little stallion about a hand shorter than the clydie, and separated by a strong fence.


as before, we rode sedately down through the farm valleys, amongst cows (including a crazed calf that charged my horse) and wild turkeys.

there were a few slippery spots due to the recent heavy rains, but apart from walking down any sort of incline in a ridiculously exaggerated zigzag, my horse bert behaved himself. 

the beach was clear of footprints, scoured by a chilly wind coming off the substantial surf. 

i had been warned that bert had a penchant for rolling in soft sand, but he didn't seem interested in giving me another close enounter, so we stayed upright.  and in spite of the recent storms, the sand was largely clear down by the tideline, and the sand was firm underhoof.  further up the beach, however, we found a variety of interesting tidecast objects.

there was evidence of historic debris, too.

we had a nice walk north along the water, then came back to the starting point and divested ourselves of fragile and flapping objects before heading off for our canter.  this was my first ride since the fall, so i was a little nervous, but tried not to convey that to bert.  and he was very good to me – he wanted to gallop, but consented to the canter and even dropped into a trot when asked.  he wasn't a huge horse, so even the canter was a little bumpy, but i stayed put and didn't have too many panicky flashbacks.  and it felt great to get another uneventful run under my belt.  i was never planning to stop riding, but i guess the first time after a spill is always going to be a little tense, especially if it's been a few weeks.

we returned at a leisurely pace along the beach to the shelter and had morning tea before starting the climb back up to the farm.  the horses were enjoying the fine weather as much as we were, although i think bert was hamming the uphills a little with his emphasized puffing and sighing.  the only other moment of note came when we crossed a creek where the normal sloping bank on the other side had caved in, leaving a cutaway at about the height of the horses' chests.  bert thought he wanted to jump the bank at a spot that was more like the level of his chin, so we had a brief battle of wills and wits, but he ended up seeing reason and we took the more sane route, still getting a good jump out of it.  no more rogue cattle challenged us and the horses were unperturbed by the flock of noisy paradise ducks that accompanied us through several fields, and we returned to the yard on schedule about three hours after departing.  bert and the other horses got thank-you carrots before we headed back to town, and i feel good about going back in the future.

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here it is, reason #687 to visit / fall in love with / move to new zealand (perhaps in that order).  today roger and i went on an adventure to mercer bay, a small secluded beach west of auckland in the waitakere ranges, surrounded by (and only accessible by clambering down) 250m-high cliffs.  they do give you fair warning:
 


but really, you should already know, if your guide looks like this.


before the steep descent, you hike about 20 min along the top, affording spectacular views up and down the coast.


after sustaining large numbers of pokes and scratches from the dense gorse along the path, you come to the actual point of departure from the main trail, down what we shall call the cliffs of insanity.


although some things do apparently enjoy life along the steep, crumbly goat track.

at some point, you get your first real glimpse of the kilometer-long beach below.

and you know it will be worth it.  and when you get down to the bottom, oh, it is.

so you swim, explore the caves, eat lunch, and stroll along the beach.  you watch the oystercatchers run in and out of the waves, you admire hundreds of meters' worth of stratified rock cliffs, and you are lulled by the pounding surf.  you stare out at the different blues and greens of the ocean, the near purple at the horizon, and you contemplate what interesting marine life might be right out beyond the breaking waves.  (what do you mean, not everyone does that??)  and you try to avoid looking too closely at the way back up, until you have to actually face it.  and as you climb, you keep turning around for one last look, to fix it in your memory until the next time you come back.  which you know you will.


and although this may seem like a very sober, collected account of the day, let me just tell you – it actually felt more like this.

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and it is this.  my thesis is quite efficiently draining my will to live capacity to write anything longer than a paragraph and looks to continue the trend for the next seven or so weeks.  yet i keep sneaking off to do non-thesis-related things, and taking my camera, and thinking, i should post this when i get the chance.  the result is a large backlog of photos intended for this site that haven't made it here yet, languishing in a number of folders on my desktop that i refuse to file away before i get around to making a real grown-up entry about them, with, like, accompanying prose and stuff.
well, away with this guilt and these languishing photos.  (actually guilt doesn't seem to be as familiar a concept as i thought – i just accidentally typed 'quilt' instead, twice.)  instead i will try to put up a nice photo every day (which we shall tag 'potd' for photo of the day!  oh the cunningness!), when i don't manage a more substantial effort.  maybe there will even be some accompanying baby prose, but don't get your hopes up too high.
here's the first one – lovely gray pebbles (tee hee) and a smidge of life, on the beach in napier.

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