News today from Waka Kōtahi: Construction is due to begin this weekend on the SH1 Ōtaki to Ohau safety improvement project. This work includes the construction of the new turnaround facility at the existing rest area at the bottom of Forest Lakes hill on SH1. Crews will be on site for nightworks on Sunday 26 and Monday 27 March, from 7pm to 5.30am, weather permitting. A stop/go traffic control will be required for nightworks while we make traffic lane adjustments so work can proceed safely at the rest area.
You might recall that back in November 2021 Horowhenua District Council received a petition asking for vehicle access to the beach through the pedestrian walkway at #10 Reay Mackay Grove. See details at 2021 Petition on vehicle and horse access to Waikawa Beach. The cogs of Council have done some grinding and now consultation on vehicle access to Waikawa Beach is in its earliest stages. In spite of the wording below I have been assured the option of taking No Action is still on the table.
A couple of years ago there was one Yucca gloriosa in the dunes between the south track off Reay Mackay Grove and the Waiorongomai Stream. This year there are 3. You can see them as you walk along the track, shining out. Come closer and you can see the detail.
A few weeks ago I asked on Facebook if anyone was interested in looking up at the stars with me. Several folks said yes. Looks like Friday 24 March 2023 would be our best bet weather-wise. Sunset these days is around 7.30 pm and we’ll want it to be a bit darker than that. It’d be useful to have a good view to the North. I suggest we meet up at the beach access on Manga Pirau Street and then go down onto the beach for a clear view.
Spinifex and driftwood meet the water's edge by the south track off Reay Mackay Grove. On 22 March 2023 we had a pretty high tide at 3.8 metres just before 11 am. There was a bit of a swell, but hardly any wind — it wasn't a storm. Below are two brief videos taken between 1120 and 1145 am. The first shows that the tide was lapping at the base of the track across the Miratana land.
In winter we put out a bird feeder and the Tauhou | Waxeye love it. They're total tiny clowns with a goofy look. Length: 12 cm; Weight: 13 g Similar species: Bellbird | Korimako A small songbird with olive-green upperparts, grey hindneck, neck-sides and upper back, dark olive green tail, whitish-cream underparts on the throat and upper breast, creamy grey on the belly and undertail, pinkish-buff flanks, white thighs, and creamy-white on the underside of the wings.
Sometimes we see flocks of Tara | White-fronted tern, like in this photo from 07 May 2022, down by the Waiorongomai Stream. Length: 42 cm; Weight: 160 g Similar species: Common tern, Arctic tern A medium-sized tern, pale grey above and white below, with a long white forked-tail, a black cap separated from the long pointed black bill by a white band, and a narrow dark band on the outer edge of the first primary.
One of the Departmental Chief Science Advisors, Rob Murdoch, talks in this clear 20 minute video about climate change adaptation in NZ. It’s an excellent video and one you should watch — though it seems that we here in Horowhenua will fare reasonably well as global temperatures rise. One random fact that struck me was that some 20,000 years ago, when the world was around 6 or 7 degrees Celsius colder than it is today, there was much more land to the west of Waikawa Beach than there is now.
After some wrangling in 2016, I succeeded in getting the Council to give us rubbish bins at each entrance to the beach off Reay Mackay Grove. At the time, I asked for dog poop bag dispensers as well, but that was a step too far. Eventually though, in May 2017, I asked again for the dispensers. A lot more wrangling went on, but finally, in November 2017, we were granted one dispenser, installed on the rubbish bin at the south track.
Once I figured out how to find Mt Taranaki on the horizon it became quite easy. The mountain is only sometimes visible — best chances are a fine day with clear air and snow on the mountain. Mount Taranaki on 22 November 2017. Zoom lens and circular polarising filter helped in this shot. To spot it, stand directly facing the horizon, with your back to the Tararuas. Imagine the spot you can see is at 12 on an old-fashioned clock face.
In October 2017 the winds brought a fresh covering to our beach: millions of small dead blue things that I assumed to be baby Bluebottles. Then, a couple of days later, thanks to Blackstone — a Waikawa Friend, I learned that in fact they are Velella vellela, a relative of bluebottles, and a jelly fish. Velella velella carpet the beach. Photo by Miraz. They are also known as By The Wind Sailors, as they use a small sail to drift on the ocean surface.
A long while back I bumped into neighbours on the beach and they showed me an odd piece of plastic rubbish shaped like a molar that they'd picked up. Except it wasn't plastic — I'd come across one of these before and had spent a while researching, to discover it was the gas bladder from a porcupine fish. Porcupine fish swim bladder. What is a gas bladder? Australian Museum says: The gas bladder (also called a swim bladder) is a flexible-walled, gas-filled sac located in the dorsal portion of body cavity.
When I drive along Waikawa Beach Road I sometimes wonder about those who were there before us. In particular, the blue tsunami line near Takapu Road makes me think of how moa were roaming this area thousands of years ago. Long before Europeans arrived at Waikawa Beach there were thriving settlements of Māori, and before them, probably of Moa Hunters. We speculate about the Moa Hunters because of moa bones found in this area.
Each year Horowhenua District Council consult on their Long-Term plan. Consultation for 2023 opens 27 March and runs until 1 May. HDC Long Term Plan Consultation 2023: The Long Term Plan (LTP) sets out the services and projects the Council will provide to the Horowhenua community all the way out to 2041! This year we propose making some changes to rates affordability, the future of the Levin Landfill and water projects through this LTP Amendment.
When conditions are right, usually in the winter, you can see Ruapehu, to the north along the beach. It's actually about 160 Km away, sometimes covered in snow. Whitebaiter with Ruapehu and bird 31 August 2021. A telephoto lens is a very handy thing. It's also quite common to see the top of the South Island, over to the right of and a small distance from Kapiti, though sometimes you can also see a chunk of it right next to Kapiti on the right.
Step outside on any dark clear night then look up and south. You should be able to see the Clouds of Magellan, two galaxies that orbit our Milky Way galaxy. Magellanic Clouds. Photo by European Southern Observatory (ESO). These and all the other stars we can see from Waikawa Beach are a treasure not available to many people on this planet. For a start, the Clouds of Magellan are only visible from the southern hemisphere.
Toxic pest plant, Sea Spurge. Do NOT touch. In 2021 a dangerous plant called Sea Spurge was found at Waikawa Beach in the dunes north of the river. It has established in an area 10 metres by 10 metres. Do not touch this plant as it is toxic. Sea Spurge closeup. Horizons Regional Council says: Sea spurge is a pest plant we have recently found in the dunes at Waikawa Beach.
Seen those funny little narrow double tracks on the beach? It's a Sand scarab beetle larva: Pericoptus truncatus is the largest of the New Zealand native scarab beetles. … The larvae, pupae and adults are common amongst the roots of marram grass and under or within driftwood.
As usual, I thought I was watching Dotterels. But as I took photo after photo I came to realise the three birds were in fact Ngutuparore | Wrybill. That curved beak is so distinctive, and they’re more grey and less brown on top.
I think there were 2 adults and a young one.
They were fearless. I sat on the sand and they busied themselves nearby looking for food.
Ferret in a cage. Photo by Tom Renais, a visitor to Waikawa Beach, and used with permission. Fluffy, and kept as pets by some folks in other countries, the Ferret is a pest animal in Aotearoa New Zealand. Ferrets are small predators and are members of the mustelid family, along with stoats, weasels, badgers, mink and otters. Stoats, weasels and ferrets, the only mustelids present in New Zealand, pose a serious threat to our threatened wildlife.
On 23 January 1855 at about a quarter past nine in the evening a massive earthquake around magnitude 8.2 on the Richter scale struck the Wellington region. It wrecked many buildings, raised the seabed by about 1.5 metres, and lifted up a huge area of land. Thomas Bevan talks about the 1855 earthquake. The full force was also felt in the Wairarapa and Manawatu, as this report from Waikawa Beach reveals — The day the earth shifted | New Zealand Geographic says: Thomas Bevan, owner of an accommodation house at Waikawa, was seated by a large double-brick chimney with a child on his knee.
In Could Waikawa Beach flood disastrously? I wrote about the possibility of Waikawa Beach suffering a flood and how and whether we should plan for such a possibility. This article from The Spinoff published 27 February 2023 talks about models for a magnitude 9 earthquake on the Hikurangi subduction zone just off the east coast of the North Island. It is a very interesting read, but one point in particular caught my attention — For safe places to live, look to the land: Wetlands or estuaries that have been drained will liquefy in earthquakes because they were made from wet mud.