Saturday, September 4, 2010
RICHES OF THE TUTUKAKA COAST Ebook
WILD LIFE AND ADVENTURE ON THE TUTUKAKA COAST
Twice in my life I've had the luck to find treasure. Back in 1968 the Elingamite wreck up in the far north yielded such a hoard of silver and gold Kelly Tarlton and I were able to devote our lives to diving. We set up our families in a big house in Matapouri Bay and started exploring the adjacent coast and the Poor Knights Islands underwater. Three decades later I can see how those dusky old treasure coins and the book I wrote on their salvage became the key to getting my diving wife Jan and myself to the Tutukaka Coast and our next major treasure find.
After writing a score of books about our sea adventures [www.wadedoak.com] and making natural history documentaries for T.V.N.Z. Jan and I decided to explore thoroughly the amazing coastal stretch we had been diving for so long. Working on programmes for network TV can be frustrating because only a broad overview can be given. We wanted to get right down to detail and photograph and video it all underwater: the fishes and marine life and then document all the diversity of life on land and in the mangrove estuaries. Only then could we prove our deep conviction: every person who sets out to explore the Tutukaka Coast will discover himself or herself truly to be a millionaire! Because of our region's thoughtful system of Public Reserves at so many strategic places we all live on an enormous piece of coastal real estate; and have access to a fabulous treasure: the finest bits of maritime scenery this planet can provide; a rich hoard of livings things and adventures galore. I realise these are pretty bold claims to be making but the proof is in the pudding. We have made a huge effort to document it all with words, photos and video over a period of forty years.
As our books testify, Jan and I have explored coral reefs, atolls and sand cays from the Bahamas to the South Pacific, Hawaii, Melanesia, Polynesia and the Great Barrier Reef. Nowhere is there a solitary pinnacle of delight. But there are plateaux of superbness and this adventure coast of ours is certainly one of them. During our work we kept discovering new wonders. It just kept on getting better and better. At the outset we thought we knew this coast pretty well but now we are totally smitten with it; the infatuation of a first love affair…
We have now explored coastal vantage points from the Tutukaka lighthouse summit, Wellingtons Reserve trig station and the curving, sand-gleaming beaches at Matapouri, Woolley’s Bay and Whangaumu; we’ve penetrated the tunnel at the back of Marsden Cove to reach the Mermaid Pool and entered the big hollow tree at Whale Bay and sipped sepia whisky at the Soda Spring and measured the giant kauri Tane Moana behind Tutukaka. From Matapouri Bridge we glided up a crystal clear, high tide boulevard flanked by mangrove trees, fishes and shrimps darting among their branches, flounder skimming the sand. And after sundown we have explored the frantic nightlife of a Ngunguru estuary reef where a tropical convict grouper lurked.
At dusk out in the low tide estuary from former Ngunguru motor camp, [best place for sunsets] the wading birds of Pimanu are silhouetted on rippling black velvet as beaks probe and spear prey: All is silent now but for the liquid plop of a rapier beak or the shrill warning cries of a bossy oystercatcher. Upstream the sun, bound for Aussie, sends out spokes of light over the steep dome of Cape Horn and the Old Cemetery.
At dawn a silver carpet extends from Cabbage Tree Bay 25 kilometres across to the boldly silhouetted Poor Knights. There is no wind. The tide is low. Twin arms of the bay seem to reach for the offshore islands. The whole, forested haven with its elaborate, bush shrouded Maori pa site, is holding its breath. Perhaps, because of its long association with Stone Age humans who left so little impression on the landscape, this seems to me the most spiritual place on the coast and its wilderness values are supreme. I imagine that unique full moon night in the year when brown eyes surrounded by tattooed faces look out along a river of silver to where Marama is rising in the gap between two islands, each not quite a perfect reflection of the other.
After a lifetime exploring the marvels of marine life, the cameras of two veteran divers recorded, month by month the moving feast of coastal forests, their trees, flowers and berries. On rugged, exposed promontories, especially at Whale Bay and Tutukaka Lighthouse Reserve, Jan and I poked our lenses at fragile and delicate sun orchids, magenta, cornflower blue or pure white. We marvelled at the unexpected beauty of such tiny, insignificant blooms. That is an important aspect of the New Zealand bush, probably because of the nature of the pollinators: there are so many inconspicuous flowerings, especially rewarding to the keen eyed discoverer. Hidden jewels. Not so the gorgeous gold of the kowhais, the virginal white of the clematis and the eye candy crimson of pohutukawas. Our explorations have tried to inventory all the coastal vegetation for the visitor, establishing each plant and then zooming in closer than the unaided eye can see.
Then, to provide further insight into nature’s diverse riches in this district, complementary to that in the adjacent sea, we set about documenting the birds, butterflies and moths; beetles, wetas and other insects; spiders, flies and geckoes, along with the herbs, reeds and grasses; fungi, lichens and mosses. We added all this to our extensive archive of marine life at the Poor Knights and on the adjacent Tutukaka Coast garnered over forty years of diving. A compendium that, while not exhaustive, presents a pretty detailed and unique overview of the big picture on our coast, above and below water.
Looking back on it all now I recall that Jan and I got a great many pleasant shocks. So many new discoveries in an area we thought familiar to us. So much more for the traveller to enjoy with a little guidance. My second time to find treasure: the Tutukaka Coast.
PROLOGUE: WILD LIFE AND ADVENTURE ON THE TUTUKAKA COAST
1 HEADLAND SUNRISE: TUTUKAKA LIGHTHOUSE
2 BIRTH OF THE TUTUKAKA COAST
3 MATAPOURI BAY
4 MARSDEN COVE
5 PEBBLY BEACH
6 WHALE BAY
7 DEEP COAST DIVE
8 ASCENDING THE SLOPE
9 WHERE WORLDS COLLIDE: TIDE POOLS OF DOLPHIN BAY
10 UP THE CLIFF
11 SEASONS AT WHALE BAY: A PORTRAIT
12 TUTUKAKA COAST FORESTS
13 KOWHAI COAST
14 BIRD TIME ON THE TUTUKAKA COAST
15 TE ARAROA THE LONG PATHWAY:
Pt. 1: TUTUKAKA- MATAPOURI,
16 TE ARAROA THE LONG PATHWAY:
Pt. 2: MATAPOURI TO TUTUKAKA
17 WALKWAY TO BOUGAINVILLE MONUMENT
18 TREES IN THE SEA:
EXPLORING LIFE IN TUTUKAKA COAST MANGROVES
19 STORM COAST
20 TUTUKAKA COAST AT DUSK AND DAWN: A CELEBRATION
21 WHAT TO DO ON THE TUTUKAKA COAST
AVAILABLE FOR DOWNLOAD: www.wadedoak.com
Copyright Wade Doak
NGUNGURU RIVER ENTRANCE