Saturday, 1 October 2016

Beach Hop South- Blackhead Beach & Turkeys


While staying at Porangahau Beach we did a short tiki-tour north to visit Blackhead Beach and then looped around one of the back roads home again. 

Here's a first for the blog- it's not everyday the lead in photo is of a killing-shed (I think I can safely say it'll be the last time too). This is Porangahau Station's historic killing shed which would have been used to slaughter sheep and cattle for the station's families and as dog tucker. It even has it's own sign pointing across the paddock to it's location. 

I didn't know I had an audience watching my every moo-ve as I took photos of the shed until I turned around. I don't think they see too many people walking up their road with a camera; David had driven off to turn around leaving me to talk to these guys for a minute or two. 

This is the former Porangahau Station homestead which is now called Chapelwick and is a luxury bed & breakfast. 

Set on 18 acres, the estate has beautiful gardens and lawns, mature trees and an orchard, a swimming pool and tennis court along with the historic Station chapel where many weddings are held. And for any NZMCA members reading, Chapelwick is also a CAP (costs apply parking), although it is rather expensive at $20 per night. There I go, it's not THAT expensive but in the scheme of things when you're paying $5 or it's free elsewhere, it seems expensive. On the plus side, you can play tennis, swim in the pool, and walk around the beautiful gardens like you own the place! 

Chapelwick also holds regular events in it's grounds over summer; old English garden parties, garden fetes and craft stalls. 

With not much more to see other than farm stations and woolsheds along the road to Blackhead Beach I managed to convince David to stop for a couple of woolshed shots.

Blackhead Beach has a small settlement of baches and holiday houses at the south end of the beach.

They are reached by crossing a small bridge which I'm sure gives the owners a sense of security. It's like entering a 'gated' community, there;s sure to be a few pairs of eyes watching anyone crossing the bridge- a bit like Billy Goat Gruff- 'who's that tripping on my bridge?'

Blackhead Station woolshed takes pride of place in the middle of the bay...

...and along with a few more houses, the Blackhead Campground and reserve is at the north end where there's also public loos and picnic tables. There is quite a deep ford and a sharp turn into the camp which would mean camping here is out for us, we wouldn't be able to get the 5th-wheeler through the ford.

It's a small campground with a number of permanent caravans on site but with plenty of green space at the rear to park motorhomes and mobile caravans. The weather deteriorated just after we arrived and the rain started just as I laid lunch out on one of the picnic tables. We quickly gathered it together and drove to the top of the reserve and backed in underneath one of the large macrocarpa trees and had lunch sitting on the tailgate. We finished just as the first few big fat drops of rain found their way through the branches.

Blackhead Beach is at the southern end of the Te Angiangi Marine Reserve, and Aramoana is at the northern end of the reserve. You'll remember we missed getting to Aramoana because of the muck-up with Pourerere. There's just 2-3 kms of coastline between the two beaches, and yet by road it's about 40kms (on a rough gravel road) or about 80kms if you go via Waipukurau.

The reserve includes a large area of inter-tidal platforms- perfect for exploring at low tide, a boulder bank and a very sheltered bay ideal to people to learn to snorkel. We were going to walk up to Aramoana, well in fact we were going to drive the beach up to Aramoana but David decided that salt laden wet sand and a clean ute weren't going to work. And by the time we arrived the tide was on it's way back in, and it had started to rain. So we gave it a miss and put it on the 'low priority, must do sometime list' 

And if we do make it back, I've decided I want to check the reserve out in comfort & style. David can hook this up to the ute and I can invite a few others along for the ride!

After lunch we made our way back up Blackhead Road and rejoined the loop. I'd seen this woolshed on the way in when I made a mental note to stop and take its photo on the way out.

It was an added bonus to come around the corner and find a flock of turkeys (aka as a rafter or gang) wandering down the middle of the road in front of the shed. Of course when they saw us they took off, running down the fenceline while the dominant male (known as a Tom or a Gobbler) flew off into the middle of the paddock and set about remonstrating with them for not following suit. Some protector he turned out to be.

You wouldn't believe how many turkeys we've seen as we've made our way south along the coast through the lowland farms and stations. Dozens of flocks both large and small, although most seem to have around 10-12 birds. Many were feeding on the roadside and took off as soon as we approached. Others were hanging out around the yards and woolsheds like this group.

Once back on the Porangahau Road we took a short detour to Wallingford Station (Wallingford Homestead is another POP(park over property) where NZMCA members can park for free as long as they purchase a 2 course dinner and a tour around the historic homestead and gardens! Surely that's a CAP(costs apply parking) and an expensive one at that....there I go again!) Anyway, we pulled into Wallingford's woolshed drive but the shed was hidden. Then a movement in the trees caught my eye and...

...there in the trees on both sides of a fence were about three dozen turkeys- strutting, flapping, eating and gobbling! 

I have never looked at turkeys in great detail, they have always been a strange looking bird but, really, these guys take the cake. 

They- well, the males anyway- are the most peculiar looking bird I think I've ever seen. It would seem that there is more than one dominant male in this group. Either that or there's a power struggle going on.

There were a number of  younger males, known as Jakes, in the group and they seem to keeping close to the hens, not challenging the older males but keeping in sweet with them and keeping an eye on the harem. Just close enough to dive in when the Toms were otherwise occupied, I'm thinking. 

Most of the males were strutting their stuff- gobbling calls bouncing off the trees, bright red or pasty pink wattles wobbling on their throats, tails fanned, wings fluffed and down- challenging each other to a dance off- a type of synchronized waltz, they strutted forward and back, up and down, turning and pirouetting around each other. 

I can now see why Native American Indians had turkey feather headgear; they had a ready made fan.

Nature sure is a wonderful thing, but sometimes you've got to wonder if it got things a little wrong- I'm sure his mother loved him.

This very large swamp was right next door to the turkeys- you can now see the Wallingford Woolshed at the back on the right. A huge waterway teeming with birdlife and frogs! I opened the door and the sound of a thousand frogs filled the air. I gave a shout and it went deadly quiet. But not for long. I'm glad we're not parked beside this lot.

At regular intervals throughout the pond were a dozen or so large mounds of reeds and grasses and on top of each of them sat a black swan, incubating her eggs and patiently awaiting the arrival of her fluffy little bundles. We spend 10 minutes or so scanning the pond to see if there might be something unusual out there, but no it was just the usual suspects.

And just across the Porangahau River, not far from home I finished our day with a shot of this 'rustic' woolshed that is on it's last legs.


  1. Beautiful (and hilarious in parts) descriptive text.

    1. Thanks Roger & Diane, glad you enjoyed it. Looking forward to crossing over to your neck of the woods very soon.

  2. Yes I agree Roger & Diane,
    Shellie, nice to see your natural wit and cheekiness creeping in more and more.

    1. Thanks Jimu, sometimes I wonder where it comes from ;)


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