Sunday, 5 January 2014

The Riviera of the South

With a break in the weather yesterday; it’s been on & off wind, rain & sun for a few days now, we took a trip with the family over to Western Southland to visit what is known as the Riviera of South, a rather grand name for Riverton. It really is a misnomer though because even though it’s a great little seaside town straddling a large estuary & river I don’t think it can quite compare with the real thing. I think it’s said by Southerners with tongue firmly planted in their cheek.

I’ll come back to Riverton though because we drove on through the town & on past Colac Bay heading for a special beach further along the coast, the wild & windswept Orepuki Beach better known by its more common name, Gemstone Beach.

It’s here at low tide that people come to beachcomb for semi-precious gemstones. The beach goes through a constant change from sand to stones with the storms & tides and gems such as garnet, jasper, quartz & nephrite can often be found exposed on the tide line. But not today, there were quite a number of people out looking but it was mostly sand and the tide was on its way in sending white foaming waves far up the beach.

A fast flowing tannin stained stream cut our walk off, we were worried it would be hard to cross back once the tide came in.

We found this “man cave/blokes shed/treehouse” fascinating, it had a large carved out hole as a window overlooking the beach  with quite an elaborately built roof, cobblestone floor, walls & glass windows on the inside underneath a huge windswept tree. Someone had spent quite a bit of time designing & building it, maybe a “get away from it all” fishing bachelor pad out in the middle of nowhere.

With no gemstones on offer & the wind picking up we headed back to Colac Bay to have lunch on the foreshore. Colac Bay is famous for its surfing & and just to make certain you know this, there’s a huge concrete surfer at the entrance to the bay. I didn’t get a chance to shoot it from the front so you only get to see him from this angle!

After lunch the kids explored the rocks and along the beach. This photo is thanks to Cameron who has the same phone as me, he reminded me of the panoramic mode which I used here taking a 180 degree shot of Colac Bay.

We then headed back to Riverton leaving via the far end of the bay. And this end is obviously where the surf break happens, there were a couple dozen surfers catching waves and dozens of cars parked & people watching from the beach including an older couple who were very comfy, settled in their bean bags.

We drove around the edge of the Jacobs River Estuary, past the rickety old wharfs and the Coastguard building which was located in an unusual but obviously ideal spot, to the beach.

The river outlet was deep & swift and I’d probably say the bar at the entrance is dangerous in the wrong winds hence the need for the coastguard to be so close.

The kids had a play at the playground just before the beach and overlooking the holiday settlement.

Whale Riders
We then drove around to the Riverton Rocks which are located in a large scenic reserve at Taramea Point. On our way back, I stopped to take some shots of the Spotted Shags (Parekareka) that were battling the elements on their favourite rock (I know it was favourite by how much poop was on it!)

Turn the other cheek

"I'm outta here"

Next, the kids had a swim back at the beach & we got an icecream from what must have been the busiest dairy in the town! And no wonder it was popular, the icecreams were huge!

Across the road from the dairy was the Riverton Soundshell looking very forlorn & forgotten. What a shame, not too long ago this place would have been alive with concerts & activities, the centre of many people’s summer holidays. An old blackboard covering one of the side buildings advertised “sausages $1”

Just out of town is the very colourful Riverton Racecourse, the locals obviously have a passion for horse racing going by how large, well maintained & colourful the four grandstands & course are.

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