Ocean Child in Matai Bay                                    24 Feb 2014

This morning Alice decided to lie on the warm sand of the beach. No-one around, just a few seabirds overhead... wind rustling the grass...  Gentle sound of the low waves breaking on the beach... Jon on the boat fixing something... perfect peace. Then up walks a horse to say hello! No sign of the owner... just a horse having its daily stroll along the beach...! When was the last time you were approached by a horse on a remote beach, not a soul in sight?

Alice and the horse have a good chat... all done via eye contact, of course. Then she starts the 100m swim back to the boat. As soon as she's swimming, a seagull lands just behind her, and paddles with her all the way back to the boat!  The seagull seems to be paddling hard to keep up... We have a photo of that!

Next Alice decides she wants fish for lunch. Must be plenty around? We put on our masks and flippers and swim to the nearest rocks. There's a cave - big and dark... it takes a while for our eyes to adjust. There's quite a swell. "Look Jon, there's light over there... there's a tunnel to another part of the bay!".  "Yes, so there is... look at the way the water is surging through the tunnel, nearly closing it with each wave". "Can we go through?"  Jon doesn't reply as the words "are you crazy?" go through his mind... then the same question again "Can we go through?". "No!". "Why not?".  Unable to think of a reply which doesn't make him look like a scaredy cat, Jon says "Well, OK, if you really want to..."  They swim towards the tunnel... Jon is frightened by the darkness and the surging waves, and reaches for Alice's hand, but the force of the rushing water pulls them apart. Jon gets sucked through in just a few seconds... Alice is not so lucky and is tossed against the roof of the tunnel.. She's bleeding... but not hurt badly...  "Wow", she says, "that was exciting! Let's do it again!". Jon assumes she is joking... luckily there's another interesting passage which attracts Alice's attention, and through they go, safely this time...

They swim past a rock standing like a vertical tower in 25m of water, kelp on its upper portion surging backwards and forwards with each passing wave, its top just under the surface. Around its base in the clear water they can see a school of maybe 150 fish, each one shining in the sun as if it's made of aluminium foil, only a bright sky blue...

Jon is getting cold in his 3mm wetsuit. Alice seems to not notice the cold in her bikini. Jon returns to the boat, and Alice follows with a leatherjacket for lunch, which is promptly cooked and eaten.

After lunch they walk along the uninhabited beach to a tiny sheltered cove, where a huge tree, must be hundreds of years old, overhangs the crystal clear shallows, the sun dancing of the water... "What if I hang from this branch, and let myself drop into the water?"  "I don't think so... "

On the way home in the dingy they pass another tiny cove, it's own special boulder beach, each stone round, almost spherical, and polished, the big stones lower down, with smaller ones, about the size of a tennis ball, higher up. There are big trees immediately above the boulder beach, cormorants have come home after a day fishing to roost, their white breasts facing the sun setting in the west. There are large nests beside the roosting birds. In Australia I have never seen cormorants roosting in trees - too many predators. They nest on off-shore rock stacks and small islands. But in New Zealand, without mammalian predators, it has been safe for these birds to evolve what looks like more comfortable, and certainly more picturesque, nesting strategies...

Meanwhile, Ocean Child has been lying peacefully at anchor, in Matai Bay's protected shallows...

 

Home