Topic: Pilot Point - 2008

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23.1.2008   PHO2011-1157


The Tonga River.  It was partly cloudy with a strong south-westerly wind.  Yesterday, the remnants of Cyclone Funa, packing powerful north-westerly gales, hit Taranaki and the lower North Island.  Unfortunately, it dumped virtually nothing of the wet stuff that the land is crying out for.  This summer has been exceptionally hot and dry thanks to La Nina.


The Tonga River appears to be migrating back towards Pilot Point from the centre of the estuary.  In my notes I state:  “After this (Te Kawau Pa), I proceeded to Pilot Road Point to photograph the Tongaporutu River once a month for 12 months to record how it migrates across the estuary.”



10.2.2008   PHO2011-1163


The Tonga River.  There was a light northerly, sea mist, wall to wall cloud and some welcome light rain.  The Tonga River appeared to be close to the middle of the estuary.  The main body of the river, that is, the ‘snake’ part, was closer to the southern side of the estuary, landward of Mammoth Rock.



6.4.2008  PHO2011-1201, 1206


The Tonga River.  From the Pilot Point overlook, the Tonga River is close to Pilot Point.  Later on, while on the Three Sisters beach, I spotted two cliff collapses on the Pilot Point side of the river.  To document it, I trekked past Mammoth Rock and across the giant sand bar towards the Pilot Point arch.


The Family of Rocks.  The photo, taken from the Mammoth Rock side of the estuary, shows just how close the Tonga River is to Pilot Point.  It also shows the family of rocks.  The sand level was fairly high and the outer rocks were in the river proper.  The light was poor, it being near the end of the day and being cloudy.



20.4.2008   PHO2011-1215, 1224-1226


The Tonga River.  The weather was fine.  The Tonga River was close to Pilot Point.


The Family of Rocks.  Some mussel spat was present on some of the rocks.  The river brushed past the outer rocks.  Sand cover was medium to high on the cliff side of the rocks.  I photographed the rocks in a series of 3 overlapping images that would show how the rock family appears to move.  Mt Egmont is visible in the background.



20.7.2008   PHO2011-1247, 1253, 1260


The Tonga River.  SUPER-STORM EVENT.  Super-Storm One.  We have had a low pressure system from the north.  It came with north-westerly winds and a lot of rain.  Upon my arrival at the Tonga toilet, I was greeted by huge seas.  After visiting Te Kawau Pa, I had a mug of tea at Pilot Point, then went to the Gibbs and accessed the Three Sisters beach.  I was stunned to see that the PILOT POINT ARCH had been completely DESTROYED.  I took a quick photo from the seaward side of Mammoth Rock of the destroyed arch looking across the brown Tonga River.  The river itself was close to Pilot Point.


On the Three Sisters beach, from what I could see, the vigorous depression had monstered the beach.  It is the worst destruction I have seen.


The Family of Rocks.  After working on the Three Sisters beach, I accessed Pilot Point to document the monumental destruction.  Importantly, the family of rocks now have new family members.  It will be interesting to see how they evolve.



24.7.2008   PHO2011-1266, 1272


The Tonga River.  SUPER-STORM EVENT.  Super-Storm Two.  A severe storm packing north-westerly winds had pounded the North Island yesterday.  It generated heavy rain, high winds and large swells.  At Tongaporutu, there was a huge swell running with massive waves breaking well off-shore.


Down on the Three Sisters beach, the sand/land bridge that connected the Three Sisters dune area to Mammoth Rock had gone.  Lots of live plants were tossed up at the cliff line.  From here, I had a clear view looking across the Tonga River.  It appeared to be in the middle of the estuary.  I photographed a bore wave coming in over the top of the fast out flowing river.  The bore surged in like an express train.  It also had a tremendous amount of energy.


At the end of my visit, I drove up to the Pilot Point overlook.  Though the tide was coming in, the middle track of the river was clearly visible.  The Three Sisters and White Cliffs are visible in the evening light.



3.8.2008   PHO2011-1277, 1279, 1282


The Tonga River.  SUPER-STORM EVENT.  Super-Storm Three.  This was the third storm in a trilogy. It had also been very wet before they occurred.  It was cold, very windy with north-westerly’s and showery.  Being ill with the flu didn’t help.  I should mention here that in general, I come up just after a storm has passed through, or at the tail end of it.  This is because sometimes a storm peaks during the night, is simply too dangerous or bucketing down with rain to work during the peak of a storm.


The Tonga River was closer to the Mammoth Rock side of the estuary.


The Family of Rocks.  Of the new family members, the big boulders were all there, but were more rounded due to wave action and rain.  Most of the reeds in the sand had gone, but the few remaining ones still appeared to be alive.  Some of the original family of rocks were encircled by water and high sand build-up.  All the soil from the Pilot Point arch collapse had now gone.



18.8.2008   PHO2011-1301


The Tonga River.  The river is running on the Pilot Point side of the middle of the estuary.



31.8.2008   PHO2011-1305, 1310, 1313


The Tonga River.  Am still recovering from the flu I had nearly six weeks ago.  The Tonga River was tending closer to Mammoth Rock, so the sand bank was well developed on the Pilot Point side of the river.  Unusually, there were lots of small, round rocks on the sand bank.  I don’t remember seeing that sort of thing before.


The Family of Rocks.  The new family of rocks were becoming noticeably softer around the edges.  They were also cradled in a medium to high sand level.  This anchored the survivors into place.  Some family members have either been reduced in size or been smashed up and gone altogether.  Overall, they are migrating away from the cliff base, albeit slowly.



28.9.2008   PHO2011-1320, 1325-1326,


I took a series of images stretching from the Three Sisters Beach dune, right across to Pilot Point.  The Tonga River was exiting into the sea roughly from the middle of the estuary.  It did appear to be closer though to Mammoth Rock.



12.10.2008   PHO2011-1351-1353, 1355


The Tonga River.  The river was right over on the Mammoth Rock side of the estuary.


The Family of Rocks.  With the river being over on the opposite side of the estuary, a substantial sand bar had built up on the Pilot Point side of it.  The high sand cover almost buried the original family of rocks.  Of the new family members, one of the larger boulders was shaped roughly like a triangle.  It had particularly lovely rock strata to it.  I took a photo of this looking across the estuary towards White Cliffs and Mt Egmont.



12.11.2008   PHO2011-1391, 1397


CLIFF SEQUENCING  (Pilot Point and Rapanui)


The Tonga River.  The river was close to Mammoth Rock.  On the Pilot Point side of the river, the sand bar was substantial and extended out to sea for some distance.  Also, the sand level was high on this side of the river.  I noticed lots of plant material littering the sand.  A sure sign of a recent cliff collapse.  None were visible on this side of the estuary, and then I saw it.  A massive cliff section collapse had occurred at the rear of the Three Sisters on the Three Sisters beach.  I took several images of the estuary and the river as part of cliff sequencing.


The Family of Rocks.  The new family of rocks was slowly diminishing.  I took a number of location shots showing both the new family members and the old family members.  The old family of rocks were buried roughly three quarters of the way up with sand.  Some mussel spat survived on some of their tops.  Another photo shows the new family of rocks with the sheared cliff face to the rear where the Pilot Point arch had once stood.


The large boulders in the new family spread out from the base of the cliff.  As they were deeply anchored by the high sand level, I assumed this afforded them some protection from being smashed up by the waves and either migrating out to sea, or joining their older family members in the dead spot they seem to be in.



14.12.2008   PHO2011-1424


CLIFF SEQUENCING  (Three Sisters beach and the Four Brothers beach).


The Tonga River.  The river is relatively close to Mammoth Rock.  The photo shows both Mammoth Rock and the river with the Tonga baches to the rear.  The sand level is high here.

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