Topic: Pilot Point - 2004
I was staying in the Gibbs’ farmhouse for several days. This allowed me to cover more ground photographically speaking.
5.1.2004 PHO2008-494-496, 1194
One of the things I wanted to do while staying up at Tonga was to photograph the Tonga River and estuary at dawn. PHO2008-494 through to 496 were done with the intention of being stitched together later on to form a panoramic image.
Before going home after staying up at the Gibbs’ farmhouse, I planned to the Tonga baches and Tonga village from both sides of the bridge. The Tonga village is on the landward side of the bridge and is shown in PHO2008-503. PHO2008-505 and 506 were done with the intention of being stitched together to form a panoramic image.
Before photographing down on the Three Sisters Beach, I took a photo from the cliff-top looking across the Tonga River towards Pilot Point.
The Tonga River. The river was right over on the Mammoth Rock side of the estuary.
The Family of Rocks. Hitting the beach below the cliff-side track, I was gobsmacked to see that a huge chunk of the beach at the dune area had been taken away. At the leading edge of the dune, it looked like a huge sand wave, frozen in time, while at the cliff corner that leads around to the family of rocks and the Pilot Point arch, the bedrock was exposed – no sand. Rounding this, I saw that the sand had been swept very high up to the cliffs, and a ginormous sand bar had formed. It took in the Point and extended right across to the river that was over on the Mammoth Rock side of the estuary.
My family of rocks were almost completely buried in sand. Just a few inches of one rock was visible, plus around a foot of the largest and highest rock. All of the other rocks were buried. I wondered how the mussel spat survived these episodes. (I later worked out that they didn’t. When the rocks are uncovered, fresh mussel spat re-colonises them).
The Tonga River. I haven’t mentioned it in my notes, but as the sand bar is still there, the river must still be over on the Mammoth Rock side of the estuary.
The Tonga River. Again, I haven’t mentioned which side of the estuary the river was on. (I didn’t decide to record this kind of information until later in the project.).
I had visited Pilot Point primarily to document the dune area. I did a sequence of photos which also includes the Tonga River. However, due to the height of the tide, the river’s precise location in the estuary was obscured. I assumed it was still over on the Mammoth Rock side of the estuary due to the high sand level on this side.
19.4.2004 PHO2008-798, 803
Today was the official end of the original year long project. This culminated in an exhibition entitled Impermanence – the Tongaporutu Coastline, held at Puke Ariki shortly afterwards.
The Tonga River. From the Pilot Point overlook, the river clearly snaked close to the Mammoth Rock side of the estuary.
The Family of Rocks. I returned to Pilot Point to photograph the family of rocks that I have been documenting this past year. I wanted to see if the small black mussels survived being buried by sand for several months. The rocks themselves were starting to emerge from their temporary sand tombs, but were not uncovered enough to confirm either way. From what I could see, the mussels seemed for the most part to have disappeared. However, I could see traces where they and other fauna had been before being smothered by sand.
I took a wide angle shot with some people sitting atop one of the rocks. People give scale. The Three Sisters, Whitecliffs and Mt Egmont were clear in the background on this fine day. Pools of water enveloped the rocks.
The Tonga River. I haven’t recorded which side of the estuary it was, but assume it remained close to the Mammoth Rock side of the estuary. The weather was very muggy with no wind. There was a sea fog accompanied by a low cloud base.
The Family of Rocks. The rocks had pockets of water around them. The rocks themselves were uncovered a little more. Some of the rocks had no mussels on them at all, while others had some mussel clumps. However, no clumps were present below about the two foot mark, measuring from the top of the rocks. Below this level, I presumed that the mussels and other fauna had been killed off by sand compaction during the approximately two months that they were covered by sand. Above this level, the sand was presumably looser, (in a more liquid state), allowing some clumps to survive.
The Tonga River. The river snakes close to the landward end of Mammoth Rock, and then veers close to the centre of the estuary where it exits into the sea.
This photograph was taken with my little Pentax 35 mm Spotmatic camera. It was just taken as a casual snapshot and ordinarily I wouldn’t have used it. However, it is extremely important because it is the only photo I have that clearly shows the sand/land bridge on the Three Sisters beach that connected the dune to Mammoth Rock. The photo was taken from the cliff-top on the Gibbs’ farm. It looks down onto Mammoth Rock and across the Tonga River to Pilot Point.
The Family of Rocks are partially visible in the same photograph as above.
The Tonga River. My notes from this period were lost in the move from one computer to another one, so I have no data on this. However, it is apparent from the photo of the Family of Rocks that the river is not emptying into the sea close to Pilot Point.
The Family of Rocks. I photographed the family of rocks from the Pilot Point overlook.