Topic: Sand - Te Kawau Pa

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Te Kawau Pa is the northern-most beach that I am documenting on the Tongaporutu coastline.  It is a stand-alone section.  This is because the stretch of coastline travelling south between it and Rapanui North is impassable.


There are two beached log sites at Te Kawau Pa.  The minor one is located in a sheltered cove to the rear of a huge sea cave.  This site is bounded by the Kuwhatahi Stream and there is a small area of low lying land.  I have not classified as a dune.  For the most part, there is only scattering of logs.  However, on the northern side of the stream where the beach opens out more, quite a few logs are present.  These though are ancient, fossilized logs and are detailed in Section Three on Rock Strata and Fossilized Trees.


The other site is located in a small, horseshoe type cove immediately south of the Keyhole.  This is the main beached log site.







4.11.2003   PHO2008-386, 1098


It was a cold, sunny day with a very strong westerly wind.  A cold front had passed through at around 4 am.  This was my first visit to Te Kawau Pa.  The beach level was good.



9.11.2003   PHO2008-388, 390-392, 394-395


After being entranced by my first visit to Te Kawau Pa a few days ago, I just had to come back for another helping.  As I observed on the 4th November, the beach level remained good.







8.3.2004   PHO2008-724-728, 737, 740, 743, 747-748, 751, 753-754, 757, 1235-1236


My birthday.  Happy birthday Pat.  You’re 58 years old today.  How do you feel?  Knackered.  Didn’t sleep last night as I was in too much pain from my knee and hip joints, especially the right one which I fell on.  (I was staying up at the Gibbs’ farm house as I was doing cliff sequencing).


CLIFF SEQUENCING.  A low tide of 0.3m was due at 6.08 pm.  The sun was smiling in a mostly clear blue sky.  A slight easterly breeze was blowing and cicadas were singing.  The tide was a fair way out upon my arrival at Te Kawau Pa, but not beyond the headlands or Lion Rock.  It was further out than I had seen it on other occasions though and of course the tide was still receding.


The sand cover was good.  Later on as the tide dropped further, I was able to get out beyond Lion Rock and photograph its sea-ward (western) face looking back to land-ward.  Also included in this particular photograph was the Sphinx.



21.3.2004   PHO2008-762, 765, 1242


The weather was fine, as in partly cloudy.  There was a light westerly wind and it was mild.  The sand cover on the beach was good.



26.6.2004   PHO2008-1296-1297, 1299-1300


Ancient logs have been uncovered on the northern part of the beach, immediately north of the Kuwhatahi Stream.  Some of them wallowed in pools of water.  The sand cover was quite low.  Rodney White sat on one of the logs.  The weather was fine.



4.7.2004   PHO2008-1304


In the vicinity of the Keyhole, the beach had been scoured right out down to bedrock.  Logs were present at the small horseshoe cove nearby.



16.8.2004   PHO2008-1348, 1356


The beach was still fairly well scoured out, but some recovery had taken place.  Unfortunately these photos do not show the beach very well.







16.7.2005   PHO2008-1372


It was cloudy.  The beach was very well built up with sand.



11.12.2005   PHO2008-1530


It was hot, sultry and cloudy.  Rain was forecast.  The odd puff of wind was from a north-westerly quarter.  The sand cover was good.





28.10.2007   PHO2011-1088, 1091, 1094-1096


I was staying up at the Gibbs motel unit.  There was bright sunshine, blue sky and a light south-easterly.  I didn’t feel too great.  Light sensitive.  Down at the beach my headache increased, but work had to be done.  The beach was well dressed with sand.  No bedrock was exposed.


After completing the photography, I returned to the unit.  By this time my headache was monumental and I was feeling sick.  I thought I was going to chuck up in the paddock as I closed the gate, but luckily I just made it back to the unit before finally being sick in the bathroom.  On the Monday morning, Chooky was waiting by the back door again so I gave her some bread.  Felt relieved to be going home.  My headache hadn’t completely gone but had reduced considerably.  “I just hope this is all worth it.”







23.1.2008   PHO2011-1155


There was a strong south-westerly wind blowing.  Yesterday, the remnants of Cyclone Funa, packing powerful north-westerly gales, hit Taranaki and the lower North Island.  Despite this, little rain fell and the summer remained dry.  I photographed from the cliff-top.  From what I could see, the beach level was good.



20.4.2008   PHO2011-1214


The weather was sunny with wall to wall blue sky.  A stiff, cold south-easterly was blowing.  This meant that Tongaporutu would be sheltered from the wind.  I took a standard shot of Lion Rock with a clear Mt Egmont in the background.  Once again, the beach was very well built up with sand.  No rock shelves or small rocks were visible as they have been previously, even when the beach had been well endowed with sand.


If the sand is piled higher at the cliff-line, then rock shelves will mostly be submerged beneath the sand.  Some shelves and rocks can still be visible with good sand cover if the sand isn’t piled up against the cliffs.



20.7.2008   PHO2011-1246


SUPER-STORM EVENT.  Super-Storm One.  Huge seas were pummelling the coastline upon my arrival at Tongaporutu.  We have had a low pressure system from the north, with north-westerly winds and lots of rain.  From what I could see from the cliff-top, there were a lot more rocks evident on the beach.  Also, the wild conditions have scrubbed it mostly clean of sand.  That is, the beach had been scoured right down to bedrock.



15.12.2008   PHO2011-1480


I haven’t photographed this part of the beach before.  It is to the rear of the Te Kawau Pa Cave on the left and shows where the Kuwhatahi Stream exits into the sea.  Due to the high tide however, the stream proper is concealed.







12.1.2009   PHO2011-1513, 1517, 1519, 1526-1527, 1532, 1540, 1553-1554, 1556


CLIFF SEQUENCING.  A low tide of 0.2m was due at 5.53 pm.  Up at Tonga, there were some nice cloud build-ups over the hills.  Over the sea it was a mixture of blue sky interlaced with wispy white cloud.  Yesterday, the wind direction was from the south-east.  Today, it was directly on the beach.  The sea state was fairly choppy with some vigour, but nothing really to worry about.  PHO2011-1513 shows the Kuwhatahi Stream and part of the beach area to the rear of the Te Kawau Pa Cave.


Down at the beach, the sand level was very good.  However, despite the very low tide and good sand cover, I was unable to get out beyond Lion Rock as I was able to on 8.3.04 when cliff sequencing, as the tide didn’t go out far enough.


There could be several reasons for this.  As the tide was actually a fraction lower than it was on 8.3.04, I can discount this.  Also, as the beach level was very good, I can equally discount this.


Wind direction could be a cause.  A south-easterly, which was present on 8.3.04, could have pushed the sea out to sea-wards slightly.  Conversely, the wind was blowing to land-ward on 12.1.09.  This could have pushed the sea in to land-ward slightly.  If true, this means that the wind direction (coupled with sea state), is an arbiter as to the actual distance a low tide can retreat to.  This to further mean that the low tide, whether it ends at Lion Rock or just beyond, falls within that given mean.


If however, the low tide retreat (whether a high low tide or a low, low tide), is outside the ‘wind mean’ for that tide, despite a good sand cover, then one might presume that the sea level has risen sufficiently so that the tide is no longer able to retreat beyond Lion Rock.  There may of course be another explanation, but as of 22.2.2010, I don’t know what it may be.


As at 12.09, I have not been able to prove which the more probable answer is.  I hope to access the beach under low tide, high sand cover and south-easterly wind conditions at roughly the same time of the year to discern which postulate may be right.


Even though the sea level is rising, I believe that at the present time, it is the wind direction that is the cause of the low tide mark discrepancy.





The beach height, from what I could see, as the tide was quite high, looked good.  There was a south-westerly wind and wall to wall cloud.



25.5.2009   PHO2011-1594


There was a very strong south-easterly blowing, along with high overcast conditions.  Again, with the tide mid-way in, the beach height, from what I could see, appeared good.



3.6.2009   PHO2011-1766


A slight breeze was coming from the south or south-east.  The sky was clear with some white cloud.  The beach height was good.  The panoramic view was taken from the northern side of the keyhole, looking south towards Lion Rock and White Cliffs.







28.2.2010   PHO2011-1776-1778, 1781, 1783, 1786-1787, 1791


I have decided to end the Tongaporutu Project in June.  As such, this would be the last time I would visit Te Kawau Pa for the project.  As such, I decided to use my panoramic camera.


A 0.1m low tide was due at 4.36.  The weather was fine but there was an onshore breeze.  There were some broken clouds over the hills.  The sea state was vigorous but not rough.


Down at the beach area where the Kuwhatahi Stream is located, the sand cover was exceptionally high in the vicinity of the gap between two cliffs where the stream normally exits into the sea.  In fact the sand level was so high that the stream was forced to channel through the sand belt that leads north.  This sand belt is bounded on the seaward side by fairly high reef type rocks separated by channels.  The stream had to exit into the sea via these channels.  It does use these channels under normal circumstances, but usually the main flow passes through the gap.


The sand belt was also quite high but squishy due to the presence of stream water and seepage.


At the small dune area, a few bleached logs reposed on the narrow dry upper high tide zone.


Around at the main beach where Lion Rock was, the sand cover was also exceptionally high.  It was so high that it had built up into a shelf near the cliffs.  And the sand height was such that it covered the base of the Keyhole.  This is normally around five feet above the beach.  Though the beach down to Lion Rock was high in sand, it sloped down from the shelf located up at the cliffs.  The slope was such that you almost could have skied down it.


All that sand had to come from somewhere.  On the seaward side of Lion Rock and between Lion Rock and the Chameleon Rocks, the beach below the water-line appeared to be heavily scoured out.  Even though it was a very low tide, The tide did not retreat beyond Lion Rock.  On the southern side of Lion Rock between Lion Rock and the fishing ledge, the beach appeared to flatten out with good sand cover.  The other thing I noticed was that the tail of Lion Rock was completely buried with sand.  I don’t recall seeing that before.  If this was your first and only visit, you would never have known that Lion Rock had a tail!


There were a lot of small pebbles down at the water-line between Lion Rock and Chameleon Rocks.


Up near the Keyhole where you enter the beach via a roped section of the cliff, a mini-lake had formed in the sand shelf.  The log field appeared to be quite stable with most of the residents being bleached by their prolonged exposure to the sun.



18.9.2010   PHO2011-1833


MEGA-STORM.  From what I could see, the beach took a hammering during this huge storm event.

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