Topic: Pilot Point - 2009

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11.1.2009   PHO2011-1512


After photographing on the Three Sisters Beach and the Four Brothers Beach, I couldn’t resist photographing this red inflatable on the Tonga River at the end of the day.  The Tonga River was in the middle of the estuary.



8.2.2009   PHO2011-1561, 1565-1566


I made a point of photographing the Tonga River from three different viewpoints.  PHO2011-1561 was taken from the Tonga Reserve.  PHO2011-1565 was taken from the public lookout on State Highway 3.  It looks out towards the Pilot Point dune and Mammoth Rock on the Three Sisters Beach.  PHO2011-1566 was taken a little further down State Highway 3 and it looks across to the Tonga baches.



11.3.2009   PHO2011-1575, 1577


The Tonga River.  The river is in the middle of the estuary, but part of it snakes back close to the cliff between Mammoth Rock and the Tonga Reserve.


The Family of Rocks.  The new family members in particular, show up at the base of Pilot Point.  The photo was taken on the Gibbs’ farm overlooking Mammoth Rock and the Tonga River.  This is a great spot for showing exactly where the river is exiting into the sea.





The Tonga River.  I haven’t mentioned which side of the estuary it is on.  I presume it is roughly in the middle of the estuary as when I last mentioned it on 11.3.09.


The Family of Rocks.  From the Gibbs’ farm overlook I noticed that the surviving large boulders had edged away from the cliff base and had now effectively joined the older family of rocks that I have been documenting.  It seems to support my view that they are from an earlier cliff or arch collapse.  There could even be more family members further out, but permanently buried in sand.



3.6.2009   PHO2011-1601-1602, 1606, 1608


The Tonga River.  The river is roughly in the middle of the estuary.  Sand levels were good on either side.  The weather was fine and calm.


The Family of Rocks.  The original family of rocks were almost completely covered with sand, just their tops remained visible.  Of the new family of rocks from the Pilot Point arch collapse, only the larger ones survived.  All of the material close to the cliff had migrated outwards so that the nearest rock was around 15-20 feet away from the parent cliff.  Some of the smaller rocks may still be present, but buried under the high sand cover, thus the actual number of rocks present was probably higher than what was currently visible.


Closer examination of the new family members showed that on the largest rock, tiny limpets, mussel spat and green algae had begun to colonise it.  The triangle shaped rock with the nice rock strata only had green algae on a small part of it.  Nothing adhered to the brighter coloured; wavy rock strata seam part of the rock.  The algae only colonised the upper part of the plain sandstone section of the rock.





The Tonga River.  The river is over on the Mammoth Rock side of the estuary.  Not hard up to Mammoth Rock, but close enough to inhibit my getting far enough away from Mammoth Rock to get it all in the one photo frame, even with the wide angle lens on.



26.8.2009   PHO2011-1883, 1885


The Tonga River.  A series of potent fronts emanating from a very deep low to the south of the country were swinging across the country delivering big seas and gusty north-westerly’s.  The day was unexpectedly fine, but with a heavy salt spray haze present.

As I wanted to document the continuing destruction of the sand dune on the Three Sisters beach, I timed my visit for the high tide.  The photos were taken close to Mammoth Rock.  The Tonga River is still over on the Mammoth Rock side of the estuary, although this is hard to discern in the photo due to the big seas running.



6.9.2009   PHO2011-1896, 1899


The Tonga River.  The weather was clear and the river was running over on the Mammoth Rock side of the estuary.





The Tonga River.  The river is migrating towards the middle now, but part of it still loops close to the cliff on the landward side of Mammoth Rock, part way down towards the Tonga Reserve.



18.10.2009   PHO2011-1924


The Tonga River is now in the middle of the estuary, but part of it still snakes back close to the southern side making public access from the Tonga Reserve difficult.



15.11.2009   PHO2011-1947



The Tonga River.  The weather was crap.  It was raining with a fairly stiff north-westerly wind.  The only reason I visited the Three Sisters beach was because of a pre-arranged walk for members of the Taranaki Geological Society.  Only three members braved the conditions.  The Tonga River was still over in the middle of the estuary, and part of it still snaked back close to the southern side.



2.12.2009   PHO2011-1695, 1697-1698


The Tonga River.  There was sea fog and low cloud.  These conditions had persisted for several days.  The breeze was from the north-west and the sea state was choppy, but not stormy.  The Tonga River was over on the Mammoth Rock side of the estuary, with part of it snaking very close to the cliff.


The Family of Rocks.  I last visited here on 3.6.09!  Normally, I would have visited sooner, but so much has been happening on the Three Sisters beach that the other areas have taken a back seat.


With the river over on the Mammoth Rock side of the estuary, the beach level was well built up.  The older family of rocks were quite low down in the sand, but enough of them remained above the sand level for some mussels and algae to survive.  Of the new family of rocks, some were wallowing like hippos in their own private pools of water.  It also appeared as though some had migrated north as opposed to seaward.  This could just be an illusion though due to me not having visited for some time.  The photos will tell a truer story.


All of the larger rocks of the new family members had green algae hats on them.  Due to the wet light, the green was particularly prominent.  Also, the mussel population had exploded.  Compared to the old family of rocks, the new family of rocks were sitting much higher in the sand (clear of the sand), than their submerging siblings who were further out (south).  I photographed the new family from the northern side looking south.  This image also included part of the still unstable cliff wall which housed the defunct arch.


After this, I wanted to re-photograph the triangle shaped rock with a view looking across the estuary towards the Sisters.  The only spot I could set up the tripod out of the pools of water was directly beneath the cliff.  And here, great gobs of fresh soil littered the ground.  They had shaved off from the overhanging cliff top since the last high tide.  No sooner had I finished, than large droplets of water plopped down around me, giving the sand a pocked look.  Luckily I had finished, so quickly made my way back to the car just before it chucked it down.

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