Friday, 23 September 2016

Beach Hop South- Kairakau, HB; Part 2

Continuing on from Part 1

I was up before the sparrows the next morning, 5:10am to be exact, to catch a spectacular east coast sunrise.

Three Bears provided the perfect foreground silhouette as the sun slowly crept towards the horizon. The half hour or so before the sun comes over the horizon are always the best for photography, known as the blue hour the sky turns a deep blue hue as twilight approaches and then moves into saturated golden colours that I've captured here.

Once the  sun pokes it's head above the horizon, the colour drains and then it's best to just sit and watch as a spectacular golden orb climbs into the sky.

Of course after a beautiful golden sunrise comes a stunning blue-sky day. 

There is a bit of history with Kairakau Beach; a long time ago, before all the houses and baches that are there now were built, Kairakau was just a sheltered accessible beach, a place local families, and families working on the nearby farm stations, came to picnic, relax and fish. Someone built a hut, then someone built another, then they added to their 'huts' and made them livable and over the years the collection of ramshackle huts and baches grew and grew. 

They were built cheek by jowl right along the edge of the beach where we are now camping. Baches were handed down from generation to generation, many families spent their summer holidays enjoying a typical kiwi beach holiday.

But eventually the District Council stepped in and said 'Stop, no more, and you don't pay rates and you have no permits, remove those huts now!'. The bach owners kicked up a stink (I mean to say, we've been here for 70 plus years enjoying our little piece of paradise and you now want us to go?) Eventually they worked out a deal with the council where they were given another 10 years before they had to be go. They were savvy negotiators; another 10 years rate free.  And so by the end of the 1980s all the baches were remove and this end of the beach returned to it's 'natural' state. I'm sure some of the stairways down to the beach along this stretch are left over from those days.

The aunty of our friendly local resident Graham, had one of those baches and it was built right about where we were parked. Graham also told us about Waterfall Bay, a small bay just around the northern point of the beach and only accessible at low tide. There were huts built in there too which were also removed. 

We went for a walk  to Waterfall Bay at the next low tide. We hadn't gone far when David spotted a baby crayfish minus one feeler, stranded on the tide line and right in the middle of the beach. We couldn't believe our eyes and it was still alive even though the sun had been beating down on it for quite some time. 

David tells me there was a brief moment when he weighed up whether it might be worth having a small crayfish hors d'oeuvre before dinner but decided better of it, and after making sure it was capable of flapping about in the shallow water, tossed it out into the deep where I'm sure it made a hasty retreat.

We wondered why the nearby seagulls hadn't been making a meal of the cray- they were munching on their own hors d'oeuvre, a conger eel. 

The cliff formations that form a dramatic backdrop to Kairakau Beach are known by the locals as the Twelve Apostles. I counted them numerous times and ended up with every number but - 8, 9, 13, 15- depending on which points I included or left out. David's scanning for birds, we were hoping there might be a falcon up there somewhere, all we got were hawks & shags. 

We're heading to Waterfall Bay which is in that gap ahead of us just before the first prominent headland, the tide is out far enough for us to get around the rocks ahead.

We'd followed another couple up the beach, they had what looked like a couple of dogs but it turned out to be four boisterous and energetic English Setters.

They raced round and round, tearing past us numerous times nearly bowling us over as they raced between the gaps in the rocks that we were passing through. Up and back down the beach for hundreds of meters, and up into the rocks and clay cliffs above us, chasing each other and hunting for rabbits and pheasants. The owner had to climb up to forcibly remove two that were pointing on a cliff above us at one stage. They wouldn't budge until he flushed a hen pheasant out of the grass ahead of them.

The dogs followed us up the track from the beach, bounding and bouncing through the long grass and leaping off the edge down into the stream at the bottom of the bank and up the other side. Their owners stayed down on the beach.

The waterfall wasn't too impressive although it had a small cool pool at it's base. This little cove has been handed back to the community and has been planted out with lots of native trees and flaxes. 

The community has also planted out a lovely area behind today's baches and holiday homes to encourage birds.

The farm station behind has stopped grazing the steep land in front of the cliffs and eventually this too will return to native bush as well.

Down at the estuary end of the beach, it's a bit more rugged with piles of seaweed and driftwood

The couple in the bus are regulars at Kairakau and mostly take up the option of parking in the campground to receive the late afternoon winter sun.

Now this is a gorgeous bach I could own, it has a lovely view across the estuary and beach to the south end. The iron maiden for camping donations is on the corner of their lawn to the left of the bach. At first I thought it was a CAP and you could park on their lawn for a donation, and in fact Kevin said a few have done so. He says they need to shift the iron maiden.

It looks like Kairakau has a very active marine club and a few members who need things spelled out in black and white. I laughed out loud when I read rule number 10! 

And lifeguard duties are taken care of...

Graham had invited us around for a cup of tea before we left and to meet his wife who does mosaics, one of my past hobbies. We'd mentioned it to him, as right around the village were lots of lovely little mosiac plaques pointing the way to the toilets and other areas. There was even a hopscotch pad on the reserve above the beach. Of course we didn't know it was going to be Graham's wife who had done them.

Well, what a surprise awaited us! Barbara certainly does mosiacs alright. 

Hidden amongst a row of beach baches with gardens full of seaside vegetation, boats, tractors, flotsam and jetsam is this amazing oasis of calm and colour.

Self-taught, Barbara is certainly a talented lady.

We said goodbye to Graham & Barbara (who was a little shy) and thanked them for their hospitality, and especially Graham's local history lesson. 

On our last night, the sun disappeared and the clouds rolled in. David sat out by the stairway with his drink and a good view up and down the beach...

...and of me doing a few long exposure shots of the surf and islands below. 

Yes, Kairakau would certainly be a beach I'd return to.


  1. Thank you for sharing these fabulous photos and the stories to go with them Shellie. I hope to find Kairakau, maybe this summer.

    1. You're welcome Cynthia, glad you enjoy the blog and pleased it's giving you some good ideas. You'll love Kairakau.

  2. Another good read Shellie, just goes to show creativity, interesting places and people, for you it's easy to find.

    1. Glad you're still enjoying the blog Jimu. The world is full of interesting people, they're not too hard to find if you take along a smile and an inquisitive mind.

  3. Thanks for the lovely photos and comments. We frequently go out to Kairakau, one of our favourite spots.

    1. You're welcome, pleased you enjoy the blog. And a look at one of your favourite places through someone else's eyes. Kairakau is now a firm favourite with us too.


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