Topic: Sand - Rapanui South

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Rapanui South is a long beach that extends from immediately south of the Rapanui Stream to just north of the Pilot Point cave.


Just south of the R shaped rock, there is a horseshoe type cove that is the resting place for driftwood and displaced logs.  I called this cove Driftwood Cove.  There is no upper beach area in that there is no sand that is above the high tide mark.  However, the land slopes right down to the beach and is climbable with some effort.  Vegetation comes right down to the bottom.  It consists primarily of grass and ice plants that bind the loose material together.  The flotilla of logs act as a natural sea wall that for the most part, prevents the land from being carved out by the sea.


There are rock platforms, shelves and localised boulder fields that are covered and uncovered on a regular basis.







12 May 2002  PHO2007-186


This photo was taken before the project started.  It was taken from the cliff-top on the O’Sullivan’s farm and looks north along the beach.  Overall, the beach level was good with some rocks visible.







13.7.2003   PHO2008-942, 945


While photographing down at Pilot Point, I took several images looking north along Rapanui South Beach.



8.10.2003   PHO2008-273, 275


I didn’t access the beach on this occasion.  Rather, I took a photo looking south along it from the cliff top Petrel Colony.  After the Alpha Storm of 29.9.03, the beach, particularly the section from what I could see between the R shaped rock and the Petrel Colony overlook, looked scoured out and a lot of rocks were showing.


On the northern side of the Petrel Colony overlook, the beach looked well endowed with sand, as did the southern portion of the beach beyond the R shaped rock.  From what I could see of it that is.  The weather was quite fine, although a front was approaching.  A light north, north-easterly was blowing.


PHO2008-275 looks north past Petrel Rock towards Rapanui North Beach.  The Rapanui Stream, the boundary between the two beaches, can clearly be seen draining into the sea.



23.10.2003   PHO2008-294, 296, 301, 1067-1069, 1073,


There was a slight westerly blowing and it was mainly fine.  Though fine, down at the beach, there were some fairly big rollers coming in.  I clambered down the cliff to the horseshoe type cove that I later called Driftwood Cove.  This cove is just south of the R shaped rock.


It was very hot and difficult to get down.  The land face was very unstable.  It mostly consisted of loose sand and some soil.  I clung to dead and living scrubby shrubs.  Once past this layer, I crossed a sandy area before reaching the relative safety of tough kikuyu at the bottom.  On one lower portion there was a large, flowering ice plant.


I was utterly pissed off by now as my tripod was covered in semi-sticking sand, my pack was filthy and I had sand in my hair.  At the beach itself, which was quite pretty, there were loads of flotsam logs at the high tide end of the beach.  Two tiny streams entered the beach at either side of the semi-circle steep land.  To my right, (north) the headland had a through-going arch.  Just past this was the R shaped rock stack.  This stack also had a through-going arch.


The beach in the vicinity of the R shaped rock had lost most of its sand.  There were lots of rocks present and the R shaped rock wallowed in water.  Though the sand cover, from what I could see, was reasonable elsewhere, a lot of rocks were visible.



26.10.2003   PHO2008-329, 332, 336, 339-340, 350-352, 1090


CLIFF SEQUENCING.  It was a fine, sunny day with a cool, stiff south-easterly.  Perfect conditions for this kind of photography.  Later on, the wind changed right around to a very cold westerly, blowing right on the beach.  The beach was well built up with sand, even around the R shaped rock.  Though rocks were still visible here, the sand was clearly building back.


Down towards the Pilot Point end of the beach, there was a V formation that was filled with water.  A large area here had a lot of roundish rocks that were visible.  PHO2008-352 also includes the seaward side of Pilot Point.







21.3.2004   PHO2008-760-761


The weather was partly cloudy with a light westerly wind.


At Rapanui, a couple with a motor home were happily playing tug of war with their fox terrier and a beaten up sheet.  They directed me to an easy route to the beach, down a grassy slope near the bridge, thus avoiding a logjam of beached logs.  The sea state was fairly choppy and my headache was getting worse.


As I neared the Point immediately south of the Rapanui Stream, waves were still slopping over a sand bank.  Deepish channels were flush with rushing water.  I removed my gumboots and sloshed through the cool sea until I had passed the Point.  I walked down to and past Driftwood Cove.  I just took two photos on the beach south of Driftwood Cove.  The beach looked well endowed with sand, but some rocks were present close to the cliff.  The sand was sinky in parts, but the entire beach was sand walkable.  This was good because I was in bare feet.  A rock infested beach would have been quite painful with my soft feet.


Returning to Petrel Rock, I strolled through a fanning fresh water stream that was heading towards the sea.



28.3.2004   PHO2008-1244


Later on, after photographing down on the beach at Pilot Point, I photographed from the cliff top looking north along Rapanui South Beach.  Although the tide was high, right up to the cliff at one spot, there was a small boulder field of rounded rocks.  These smoothed rocks are pushed up into localised areas along the coast under certain conditions.  These rocks and others like them, appear to be scaled up versions of much smaller sand grains.  I believe that they scale fractally.







25.11.2007   PHO2011-1103, 1106, 1108,1113, 1116


A low tide of 0.2m was due at 5.09 pm.  The weather was fine, but it was quite windy with a stiff south-westerly blowing.  I particularly wanted to photograph the Rapanui beach as I haven’t been to this area for some time.


Down on the beach, I was struck by the low visibility level due to salt spray.  White Cliffs was barely visible and of Mt Egmont, only its snow covered peak was visible in this diffused light.


At the Pilot Point cave, I planned to round the bluff that gave access to Rapanui beach proper.  The cliff bases had been gouged out and deep water prevented close access.  Further out, a sand bank was being revealed by the rapidly receding tide.  I removed my gumboots and ventured out onto this sand bank.  The water was surprisingly warm.  Warm enough to swim in without freezing your arse off.


Though on the sand bank, water was still spilling over onto it.  Annoyingly, I couldn’t yet access Rapanui beach proper because a deep, narrow channel bisected the sand bank.  Closer in to the cliffs there was a large pool inhabited by roundish rocks.  Some of these were quite slippery and some had green algae hats on them.


The beach proper was divided into two distinct halves, separated by a V formation roughly in the middle of the beach.  This depression contained rock platforms and rocks.  On the seaward side of this was the sand bank.  On the landward side the beach was well built up, but some rocks were present.  When the V formation is filled in, then the rock platforms and rocks, being low lying, are buried in sand.


At the R shaped rock, there was a mixed bag of water channels, rocks and sand.  At some of the cliff bases there were families of rocks while others were relatively clean of rocks.


Basically, the beach is home to a multitude of rocks which are covered to a greater or lesser degree with a blanket of sand.







20.4.2008   PHO2011-1219


Though I was primarily photographing at Pilot Point, I did take a couple of photos at the southern end of Rapanui South Beach.  This photo looks north and shows good sand cover.



31.8.2008   PHO2011-1303-1304, 1308, 1311, 1317


There was a slight northerly blowing and it was partly cloudy.  I was hoping to do some cliff sequencing at Rapanui, provided it had good sand cover and was accessible.


One of the photos was taken from the cliff-top looking north along the beach, just to get an initial overview.  I noticed a lot of large rock debris along the beach at the cliff bases, but the beach itself was well endowed with sand.  This was perhaps at the expense of the Three Sisters Beach which still appeared mostly denuded of sand.  This was possibly in part due to the Tonga River being over on the Mammoth Rock side of the estuary and the Super Storm Event of last month.


I decided against doing cliff sequencing, mostly because I was too stuffed.  However, I still wanted to document parts of the beach up to the R shaped rock.  The tide had receded enough to allow easy access.  Unlike last time, there was no deep channel to cross and the sand cover was good, although there were a lot of small stones embedded in the sand. This was quite unusual, but I put it down to the series of storms from last month.  There was a small channel of water present to landward of the middle of the beach, but it didn’t prove to be a problem.  At the R shaped rock, rocks were visible in the sand.  There was a good mixture of both.


The round rocks with the green algae hats that I had observed at the southern end of the beach on 25.11.07 were now covered in sand.  It’s as if they had never existed.



12.11.2008   PHO2011-1370, 1372, 1375, 1379, 1381,1386


CLIFF SEQUENCING.  It was fine with a light westerly breeze.  It had been fine for a while so surge conditions were not anticipated.  I had been wanting to do cliff sequencing photography at Rapanui, but have been frustrated so far this year.  This was due to stormy conditions and/or low beach sand cover levels.


Down at the beach, (accessed via Pilot Point.  This is where I mostly access Rapanui South beach from), I noticed three things.  First, how far out the sand bar extended, also, the sand level was high.  Secondly, due to the heat, steam was rising from the coolish, wet sand, delivering sauna-like conditions.  Thirdly, I noticed a lot of plant material.  Flaxes, coprosma, scrubby branches of pohutukawa, etc.  A sure sign of a recent cliff collapse.  I later determined that a massive cliff section collapse had occurred on the Three Sisters Beach.


As I rounded the large bluff that marked the southern boundary separating Pilot Point from Rapanui beach, I discovered that my task wouldn’t be straight forward.  The beach was a mix of sand bars at the wave-line, which was fine, but they were intersected in some places by channels with shallow pools of rock beds exposed in places in the middle of the beach.


This is typical of V formations.  Basically, at the wave-line, a high sand bar existed.  In the middle was a lower bed of rocks which was scooped out in places, or a ‘V’, and then near the cliffs the sand level was higher again.  Boulders and rocks inhabited the bases of some of these cliffs.


Due to the conditions, some of the cliff sequencing had to be done on an angle due to the water channels present in the middle section of the beach.







11.8.2010   PHO2011-1826-1827, 1829


The beach was very well built up from the extensive sand bar at the 0.1m low tide wave zone right up to the cliffs.  Boulders and rocks did inhabite the upper beach zone in places, but these were long-term residents.  There was no V formation present.

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