Topic: Strata - White Cliffs

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White Cliffs are the most iconic cliffs on the Taranaki coastline.  Not only are they soaringly high, but being white makes them our very own White cathedrals.  Being white allows White Cliffs to ‘do’ a chameleon turn of colour, dependent upon weather conditions and the time of day.

Everything about White Cliffs is in the superlative.  And that also applies to its magnificent coastal forest.  Sadly, this beautiful native bush is mostly silent of birdsong.  The rest stop atop Mt Messenger is a known dumping ground for unwanted cats.  Unwanted roosters are also dumped there, but at least they don’t decimate the birdlife like cats, stoats, rats and possums.

On a much smaller scale, the historic Te Horo stock tunnel is another iconic feature at White Cliffs.  Amateur tunnelers started building the tunnel at both ends in 1857.  However, the project was abandoned in 1860 when war (Maori versus Pakeha), broke out.

The tunnel was re-aligned and completed in the 1880’s after a Mr Rigby drowned trying to ride his horse around what is now known as Rigby’s Point, just north of the Te Horo tunnel.  (Rigby’s Point is the boundary that separates Twin Creeks from White Cliffs beach.  This bluff is marked as ‘Inaccessible’ in red on my map).

The Te Horo stock tunnel is 95 metres long and it slopes downwards from the landward entrance to the seaward entrance.  It is estimated that 150,000 sheep and 80,000 cattle passed through this tunnel on their cost saving way to the Waitara Freezing Works.

Last but not least is the beach.  It is home to a substantial boulder field and a reef, that are both fascinating and treacherous.  This is ankle cracking territory that just waits to catch out the careless or unwary!


19 November 2003  



The first image shows the Te Horo stock tunnel from the seaward entrance looking back towards the landward entrance.  I found it to be a cold, draughty and slightly unnerving place to be in.  This sense of dread was compounded by a musty, dank odour, coupled with water dribbling past that made for a slippery passage in places.

The last mob of sheep were driven through the tunnel in 1960.  Today, the Te Horo stock tunnel is currently part of the Whitecliffs Walkway.  (See also Section Four on Cliffs).

The second image shows some of the beautiful coastal forest in evening light and shadow.  Notice how ‘wind sheared’ some of the trees, especially puriris, are.  (See Section Nine on Flora and Fauna).

9 December 2003  





Though photographing in the rain can be uncomfortable for the photographer, the end results can be most rewarding.  Photo PHO2008-1156 shows some of the beautiful native bush with some of White Cliffs in the background.  The ‘wet light’ and low cloud add to the charm.  Mature specimens of puriri, nikau and other natives thrive in this often challenging coastal environment.  (See also Section Nine on Flora and Fauna).


PHO2008-463 shows a brooding White Cliffs whose tops provide a rest stop for passing clouds.  Two people on the beach seem like human ants in comparison.  (See also Section Four on Cliffs and Section Ten on People).


PHO2008-468 shows the seaward entrance of the Te Horo stock tunnel.  Twin Creeks is immediately north of the background bluff.



8 February 2004  

PHO2008-671, PHO2008-1209  (Examples only)


CLIFF SEQUENCING.  The first image shows part of the extensive boulder field and reef.  The Te Horo stock tunnel is at the base of the cliffs roughly in the middle of the photo.  Photo PHO2008-1209 gives some idea of the superlative scale of White cliffs in this partial view.



29 April 2010  



I especially wanted to photograph White Cliffs, firstly before the project finished later this year, but secondly, before the walkway was closed from the end of June until the end of September for lambing.  Above all, I particularly wanted to photograph White cliffs with the panoramic camera to reveal more of its magnificence.


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