Topic: Pilot Point - 2010

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I didn’t access Pilot Point.  The Tonga River is exiting into the sea from roughly the middle of the estuary, though part of it still snakes back close to the cliff between Mammoth Rock and the Tonga Reserve.  The sea state was moderate with a stiff southerly.


Due to high sand cover, the new family of rock members were partly buried.





Again, I didn’t access Pilot Point.  The Tonga River is in the middle of the estuary.  There were substantial sand bars on either side of the river.  It still snakes back close to the cliff between Mammoth Rock and the Tonga Reserve.  The weather was fine with some cloud build-ups.  The sea state was choppy, but this was due to a fine weather onshore westerly breeze.





A 0.6m low tide was due at 4.22 pm.  Not as low as I would have liked, but I haven’t accessed Pilot Point for some time.  As this project proper is coming to a close, I wanted to check on the Tonga River and the evolution of the Family of Rocks, especially the newer members before finishing it.  As the Tonga Project began here, I wanted to all but end it here.  I only have the Three Sisters Beach and the Four Brothers Beach to visit, when the weather allows, then this project is done.  The project will continue, but it will be more of a follow up nature and done intermittently.


It was wet and quite miserable.  I had hoped the weather would brighten up later on, but this didn’t happen.  The Tonga River snaked very close to the cliffs on the Tonga Reserve side of the estuary, then it angled across towards Pilot Point where it exited into the sea.  This seems to be its ‘default’ path for the majority of the time.  Fortunately, it wasn’t hard up to the Point and this had allowed the beach to build up quite a lot.


In fact, the sand level was such that the older family members were around three quarters buried in sand.  The newer members were the opposite, roughly being around three quarters above the beach height.  They were roughly 20-30 feet clear of the base of the Point, but seemed to be firmly ensconced in their current positions.  All of the new members had large mats of mussel spat residing on them.  Even the beautifully patterned rock that was mostly initially shunned, was now well covered, although not to the same extent as the other rocks.  Some rocks therefore are less desirable than others.  Perhaps this is due to their strata composition and/or chemical component.


N.B.  Unfortunately the photos didn’t come out so I will have to re-do them.



11.7.2010   PHO2011-1811


A stunning day.  The Tonga baches are reflected in the quiet Tonga River.  Though I should have gone over to Pilot Point, I wanted to make the most of the fantastic weather and I opted to work on the Three Sisters Beach and the Four Brothers Beach instead.  Maybe next time.



26.7.2010   PHO2011-1821


Unfortunately, though clearing in New Plymouth as I left, the weather turned to custard going up to and up at Tongaporutu.  It was virtually a re-run of my last trip to Pilot Point on the 27th June.  I used just one roll of film with different exposure settings in the hope that one at least would come out.  I did have a few minutes where the sun poked through a small hole in the rain clouds and lit up the Family of Rocks in weak light.



11.8.2010   PHO2011-1831


Finally, on this, my third attempt, the weather was kind.  The sun was shining and there was only a slight to moderate westerly breeze.  A very low 0.1m tide was due at 4.32 pm and the beach state was very good.


The Tonga River was close to cliffs over towards the Tonga Reserve, but it emptied into the sea very close to the Point.  It actually cut through the Family of Rocks and had hollowed them out so that on the river side in particular, the sand cover had gone.  The sand cover built up again on the northern side of the rocks.  The mussels and other flora and fauna on the rocks continued to thrive.



18.9.2010   PHO2011-1755, 1847, 1853, 1855, 1862




I wanted to photograph this storm from a similar viewpoint as to where I had recorded the Alpha Storm on 29th September 2003.  (The Pilot Point Overlook).  In the 2003 storm that I photographed from here, the tide was very high, being 3.7m, whereas with this storm I recorded it about an hour and a half after low tide.  The low tide being a ‘high’ low tide of 1.2m.  Despite this, the sea state was such that I couldn’t tell which side of the estuary the Tonga River was emptying into the sea from.  I guessed that it still snaked close to the cliffs just past the Tonga Reserve, then angled across to over here, Pilot Point.


In PHO2011-1847, due to the tide state, the river flow appeared relatively calm when compared to a similar photo taken on 29.9.2003.  The sea state however couldn’t be more opposite;  it was seething in the vicinity of the Three Sisters Beach.

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