20 May 2008
From Muriwai almost to South Head runs Coast Road, for most of it's distance available only to horses and pedestrians. The short public access section of it that heads up from Motutara Rd in Muriwai, past the golf course takes you to the Okiritoto Stream access to Muriwai Beach, and for the curious, a walking track heads north from here.
There was a cold and blustery east wind stinging our faces with sand as we left the car and headed north past the sign.
It's mainly grass and scrub, coastal coprosma and pittosporums and vast yellow-olive cushions of muehlenbeckia, with an occasional macrocarpa suggesting some farmer has tried to make it work here years ago.
It's not so much a track as it is kikuyu flattened by passers by.
We travel along the back of a large grassy dune. From the top, a scrubby interdune area of about 150m width separates us from the beach dune.
Here's the stream. We head left towards the coast,
cutting diagonally up the dune.
From the top we can see the coast and the scrubby interdune area.
Alice bounces around in the muehlenbeckia. Years ago as a teenager I spread out my sleeping bag for the night at Hot Water Beach on a living mattress of this stuff. Very comfortable as I recall it but I wonder how my present 125kg frame would appreciate it these days.
The track hugs the edge of the dune, a most precarious looking situation.
It's a mite exposed up here, visually and climatically, to be doffing your knickers for any reason. We conclude charitably that they've fallen out of someone's beachbag on the way home from a swim.
Miranda heads across the interdune towards the mouth of the stream. Beside the ubiquitous kikuyu and muehlenbeckia, there's a lot of iceplant and lupin. Iceplant does well as a dune cover and it's flaming magenta flowers are a feature up at Journey's End on the Kaipara Harbour.
Lupin is a nitrogen fixer, and was extensively used by the forest service as a preparatory plant in the sand dunes prior to establishing pine forests, just north of here at Woodhill.
We sidle down the dune again. Up ahead a couple of 4WD vehicles are parked down on the beach. One belongs to the ranger and the other to a fisherman. The easterly offers a number of advantages to those trying to get their line out. This guy is using a kite. (A little later I spot him hauling in and releasing a seagull which has rashly seized the proffered bait.)
We head along the edge of the stream.
Alice checks it out for potability and seems satisfied.
And if you think I'm going to throw that for you to fetch you have another think coming
Out by the water's edge are a huge flock of small seabirds. Terns, I think. Miranda gets out her camera, attaches the telephoto and goes to work.
These birds unlike many, seem totally unphased by human beings and Miranda is able to get remarkably close. I keep waiting for the big takeoff, but it just doesn't happen.
She is in her element in situations like this
So is Alice, come to that. When it all boils down there are not many places left where a dog can execute an 80 metre doughnut at top speed. And there's an added bonus if you come across a dead fish or bird to have a roll in.
The brisk easterly has set up some wonderful surf and the spindrift off the top is impressive,
We head back up to the 4WD access. Somebody has put in some very heavy thought here. There is a vehicle access, a pedestrian access and a horse access.
Life is complicated enough, it seems to me.....
As we hit the carpark, I am initially alarmed. Then I relax. It's not our car.
Unfortunately, it is a feature of this area that stolen cars are brought out here and wrecked or driven onto the beach and abandoned to the tide. Even at the main carpark along the beach, burglary is a regular occurrence, though recent security changes there appear to be having an effect.
We make our way along the road a little to where our car is sitting at the start of the track. Not a great walk but a variation on the normal beach expedition and one you may well wish to explore.