Topic: Storm - 2003

Topic type:

1 January 2003

Tongaporutu Coastline - Whitecliffs walkway  


On the Whitecliffs Walkway (Gibbs’ farm), looking south towards White Cliffs.


Whitecliffs at dusk.

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On the Maori Pa bluff looking south towards White Cliffs.

On Gibbs’ Fishing Point looking north along the Four Brothers Beach.

Low tide was later in the day.

I wanted to do some late light photography down towards White Cliffs.  The weather was fine and calm.


27 March 2003  

Tongaporutu Coastline - cave below Pilot Road Point pictured from the beach


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Pilot Point Beach.

On Gibbs’ Fishing Point looking north along the Four Brothers Beach.

On Gibbs’ Fishing Point looking south along Beach One.

Low tide was mid afternoon.

The day was relatively mild and calm.


18 May 2003  

Tongaporutu Coastline - Pilot Road Point


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Pilot Point Beach.

Low tide was later in the afternoon.

The weather was calm with high, innocuous cloud.


1 June 2003  


Tongaporutu Coastline - caves scoured beneath Pilot Road Point


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Pilot Point Beach.

Low tide was late afternoon.

The weather was warm and clear.

8 June 2003  

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Both above and on the Three Sisters Beach.

It was a later morning low tide.

The weather was reasonably fine early in the afternoon, but there was a strengthening north-westerly.  As I photographed from the cliff-tops, cloud increased.  This was the forerunner of an approaching front.

10 June 2003 

Tongaporutu Coastline - Four Brothers Beach



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On Gibbs’ Fishing Point looking north along the Four Brothers Beach.

On Gibbs’ Fishing Point looking south along Beach One.

High tide was due at 6.13 pm.

A southerly gale was thrashing the country.  This was the aftermath of the northerly storm that I photographed approaching New Zealand on Sunday the 8th June.  It had then turned southerly after slipping to the south.

I went up to Tonga on the off-chance that I might get some huge waves crashing up the Wall at Gibbs’ Fishing Point.  As I walked towards the cliffs, the wind was very cold.  A small break in the cloud appeared and I got off about 15 minutes of photography.

Sure enough, massive waves were smashing into the cliff with some of the wave plumes being well over 100 feet into the air;  higher than the Wall.  (The Wall is around 80 feet in height.  The vegetation zone is above that).  I also got some good images looking south along Beach One towards Whitecliffs.  My last photo was taken back at the Wall.  It showed a wave plume reaching well over 100 feet and out of the frame.  Afterwards, I was so cold I didn’t get warm until the next day.

11 June 2003  

Tongaporutu Coastline - Beach One looking south from Gibbs' Fishing Point


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Above and on the Three Sisters Beach.

On Gibbs’ Fishing Point, firstly showing erosion and secondly, looking south along Beach One.

Low tide was due just after lunch.

After yesterday’s freezing windblown conditions, today was fine and calm.

After three close days of intensive photography, I was tired out and planned to have a rest for a bit.

30 June 2003  

Tongaporutu Coastline - The Fledglings on Beach One from Gibbs' Fishing Point


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On Gibbs’ Fishing Point looking north along the Four Brothers Beach.

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On Gibbs’ Fishing Point looking west over Gull Rock.

On Gibbs’ Fishing Point looking south along Beach One.

The Three Sisters Beach

Pilot Point Beach

Both the morning high tide and the afternoon low tide were utilized.

Although the weather didn’t look promising, it being cloudy due to a northerly weather system, I decided to go up to Tonga to photograph the Little Sister.  This was because of the possibility of her breaking up even more during this current cycle of weather fronts.

After I crossed Mt Messenger, the weather cleared abruptly on a south/north border.  The south was cloudy while the north was fine.  With it being fine the wind dropped but a big surf was running.

13 July 2003  

Tongaporutu Coastline - towards Rapanui


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The Three Sisters Beach.

Pilot Point Beach.

Low tide was due late in the afternoon.

It was a beautiful sunny, calm, clear winter’s day.  One out of the box.  It followed a strong south-easterly yesterday, Saturday.  The atmosphere was very clear as it usually was when the wind was from the easterly quarter.  When I’d finished, I noticed that the full moon was over the mainland, including the Tonga baches, so I took my last shot of the estuary to encompass this view.

20 July 2003  

 Tongaporutu Coastline - Dennis O'Donnell and Tony Johnstone on the Tongaporutu River bank



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Pilot Point, including the dune.

High tide was due at 2.30 pm.

The day was cool and fine with a light southerly.  Though the wind was light, a big swell was running.  I noticed that with the swell, huge waves were sweeping up Gull Rock.  Gull Rock is located just off Gibbs’ Fishing Point.

27 July 2003  


Tongaporutu Coastline - cliff with plant growth, Pilot Road Point


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The MacKenzies Picnic Table Overlook, looking south over Cathedral Cave.

(The Picnic Table Overlook is located above the southern end of the Four Brothers Beach.  The northern part looks down on Pinocchio, Horseshoe Cove and north along the beach.  The southern part looks down on Cathedral Cave and across to part of Gibbs’ Fishing Point).

The Three Sisters Beach.

Pilot Point Beach.

A high low tide was due later in the afternoon.

There was a cold north-easterly wind blowing off the land.  The cloud layer was wall to wall with some lighter patches.  This was the forerunner of a low in the Tasman Sea.

As the wind was from the north-east, the land forms were extremely clear due to the salt spray being blown back out to sea.  There was a reasonably high sea running.


30 July 2003  

Tongaporutu Coastline - the Middle Sister, Three Sisters Beach


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The Three Sisters Beach.

The Four Brothers Beach.

A 0.5m low tide was due at 4.42 pm.

The day was brilliantly fine and clear.  The breeze, what there was, emanated from an east, north-easterly direction.  The sea state was calm but not mirror flat.  By day’s end however, the sea had smoothed off to a glassy state that took on the colour of bluish polished silver.  This was the first time I had visited the Four Brothers Beach.


13 August 2003  

Tongaporutu Coastline - two of the Four Brothers at sunset13



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The Three Sisters Beach.

The Four Brothers Beach.

A 0.4m low tide was due at 4.44 pm.


CLIFF SEQUENCING on the Three Sisters Beach and the Four Brothers Beach.

The weather was fine with high cloud accompanied by a light south-easterly breeze.  Being a south-easterly, I knew that there would be little if any surf spray and that distant vistas such as Mt Egmont would be clear.  The sea state was slight with baby wavelets.  Being winter, the water temperature was quite cold.  For the past six weeks the weather has been unusually calm, mild and fine.



28 August 2003  

Tongaporutu Coastline - the Three Sisters


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Pilot Point Beach.

Three Sisters Beach.

The Point.

Four Brothers Beach.

A very low tide of 0.3m was due at 4.20 pm.

There were some spectacular cloud build-ups and the breeze was from the west.  Hail was forecast for later on.  On Wednesday (today is Thursday), a stiff northerly and heavy rain had pounded the province as a front thundered through.  On the previous Saturday, the 23rd, a ferocious south-easterly roared all day.  This was the strongest wind in three years.

As I could hear the sea, I knew it would be rough with a good sized swell running.  Down at the Pilot Point overlook, a huge cauliflower cloud rose high above White Cliffs, but I didn’t photograph it!  I was afflicted with lazyitist.  It, along with tireditis, idleitis and can’t-be-bothereditis, are several afflictions that affect me from time to time.

Down at the Pilot Point Beach, a ferocious rip was tearing out to sea on the half tide.  The surf was pounding away a fair way out, but due to storm surge conditions, the tide, or at least the wave-line, was quite high.  There were also some bore-like waves or surges coming in over the top of the outflowing Tonga River.

This was where I learned, almost to my cost, of the tremendous power of storm surges, especially in the vicinity of river mouths.  (This is further elucidated in Section Seven on the Family of Rocks and the Tongaporutu River).

Later on, on the Four Brothers Beach, lots of salt foam was visible.  This foam occupied the length of the beach and it blew around like white candyfloss.  I don’t remember observing it on the Three Sisters Beach.

The cloud build-ups that I observed were the most spectacular I had seen.  Getting stung by stinging rain wasn’t so memorable however!

6 September 2003  

Tongaporutu Coastline - view from Gibbs' Fishing Point


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On Pilot Point looking down on the family of rocks and the Tonga River.

Pilot Point Beach.

On Gibbs’ Fishing Point looking north along the Four Brothers Beach.

On Gibbs’ Fishing Point looking west over Gull Rock.

Low tide was around 12.30 pm while high tide was due at 6.34 pm.

Just over a week later from my last visit on the 28th August, and having endured a cold, I returned, much the wiser, to Pilot Point.

The wind was a screaming south-westerly.  It was generating five metre swells.  As such, I was hoping for some good storm surge photography.  For this I took my 300 mm telephoto lens, plus the 75 mm wide angle lens for my Pentax 6x7 film camera.  The weather was partly cloudy but fining up.  After having a cold, I wasn’t really feeling up to going, but the weather doesn’t happen on cue.

Yesterday, Friday 5th, there had been a raging southerly storm, so I thought there might be more cliffs falls to document.

At Pilot Point I studied the Tonga River.  It was higher than normal (ditto just over a week ago).  Due to its speed and increased volume, it was undercutting the incoming surf.  In effect it was holding the surf back so that when it did come in, it tended to come in at times as tidal bore-like surges.  I thus concluded this was what I had experienced the last time I was here.  Not so much ordinary surf backing up by ordinary undertow, although that was happening, but by being undercut by the fast flowing, out flowing high volume river.  Under low outflows and even normal outflows, the undercutting, though still there, is not compounded too much above normal tidal surges.  Combine storm surge with high river outflow and you appear to have bore-like conditions.

In effect, the power of the out flowing river was such that it temporarily halted the incoming waves.  These then built up in energy, but not so much in height, until when the energy of approximately four waves was compressed and combined, then the resultant ‘four waves in one’ had enough power to overcome the out flowing river and power in as a tidal bore.  These come in with the power of a freight train and the speed of an express train.  They occur on a fairly regular basis.  Not wave for individual wave, but a time regulated basis of wave power build-up.  That is, the power of the outflow versus the power of the inflow – the cross-over of strength from one ‘state’ of water flows to the other.

At Gibbs’ Fishing Point, the ferocious wind was howling in directly from the sea.  Huge waves were slamming into the cliff walls and Gull Rock sending up massive spray plumes.  I found being in the midst of all this action to be both exhilarating and terrifying.


29 September 2003  

Tongaporutu Coastline - aftermath of a storm




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On Pilot Point looking south over the Tonga River and the Three Sisters Beach.

On Gibbs’ Fishing Point looking west over Gull Rock.

On Gibbs’ Fishing Point looking north along the Four Brothers Beach.

The Three Sisters Beach.

A 3.7m high tide was due at 11.50 am while a 0.3m low tide was due at 6.04 pm.

Alpha Storm.  Alpha storms and weather bombs, while not necessarily one and the same thing, nevertheless share one common factor;  they are both highly virulent, potent storms.  Such individual storms are capable of causing a tremendous amount of damage.  What part of the coastline is particularly affected depends on the storm’s angle of hit coupled with its highest end energy state.  This could be in the individual form of wind, rain or sea state, or a combination of all three states.

A storm’s angle of hit relative to the coastline is of crucial importance as it concerns the often overlooked secondary effect of RESONANCE.  Resonance, though it can be highly selective in what it affects, the destruction it causes can be catastrophic.  For example, cliff failures or rock stack collapses.

Though I am primarily concerned with the Tongaporutu coastline and how such storms affect it, what I have said equally applies elsewhere, but with localised differences.

Years ago when I lived up in Auckland, I remember seeing something on the television news about a particularly bad storm that had hit northern New Zealand, specifically in the Snells Beach/Mahurangi region.  A women commented on how far out to sea the waves were breaking.  I don’t know why, but that statement stuck in my mind.  Fast forward to October 2003.  While interviewing Dr Peter King, D.Sc, the Research Programme Leader, Basin Evolution & Petroleum Potential, of the Institute of Geological & Nuclear Sciences Ltd, Wellington, we touched on the WASH ZONE.  This was in connection with rock stacks.  He actually referred to it as the ‘breaker line’.

With reference to this Alpha Storm, I put the two together and came to the following conclusion:  The further out to sea the waves break and the further out to sea the wash zone extends, the more powerful the storm.  Now while this will be known to those connected with geology and meteorology, one other factor that I have mentioned above may not be so well known.  Vibration or resonance.

Each storm comes with its own unique sound or vibration signature;  its energy frequency (resonance).  Roughly speaking, the more powerful the storm, the higher the overall energy frequency or ’noise’.  For example, with a very calm sea you would strain to even hear individual wavelets, while with a boiling sea the noise would be constant and deafening.

At Tongaporutu, noise is a constant.  The Tasman Sea, being a highly energetic sea generates a lot of noise.  As well as water, be it in the form of waves or rain, resonance is the ‘hidden killer’ or so-called ‘silent carver’ of the Tongaporutu coastline.

The hollows and bays and horseshoe shaped coves are all carved out not just by wave action alone, (direct surface pulse energy), as a layperson might think, but also by the subsequent shock-waves. affects both the internal and external structure of the cliffs, sea caves and rock stacks, whereas the direct or first wave action mostly impacts the external structure.

Direct wave action imparts a high impact pulse of energy.  Though high in intensity, the duration is short.  Also, the greater the cracking or faulting (apparent three-dimensionality) of the affected two-dimensional surface area, the greater the initial impact damage, (carving).  The smoother the two-dimensional surface area, generally speaking, the lower the external damage but the greater the internal damage due to resonance.  (Shock waves) Cathedral Cave, located at Gibbs’ Fishing Point is a prime example of this.

Due to resonance’s longer duration and greater reach, sometimes coupled with ‘bounce’, it is the primary carver of the coastline.  (Bounce occurs when one or more different energy waves bounce off ‘something’, then back onto another energy wave, thus reinforcing its effect.  Horseshoe Cove located on the Four Brothers Beach is a prime example of how bounce helps to create a natural sound-shell, thus making such places highly susceptible to cliff falls and erosion.

Because each storm’s energy signature is unique, how they affect the coastline and what part of it, is also unique to that particular storm.  Everything has a natural or native frequency.  Incoming frequencies from any particular storm can either have a cancelling out or a reinforcing effect on the native frequencies present.  This is where angle of hit is important because coves and caves etc., can act as natural sound shells, meaning that they can either mitigate or magnify any effect.  Sea stacks on the other hand can become like tuning forks.  Under the right conditions some of them may be highly vulnerable to shearing.

All of this is subject to fractal scaling.

With this particular alpha storm I had decided to record some of the sounds of the coast.  This was before I concluded that vibration or resonance played such a significant role in coastline evolution.

The following is taken from my diary entry for Monday 29 September 2003.

“A savage storm hit Taranaki on Sunday 28th with thunder, lightning and north-westerly winds.  I had intended to go up on that day, but it chucked it down all day.  And I had developed diarrhoea and chills that started in the early hours of Sunday morning.  Determined to go up on Monday, I suspected that the third Sister might have been ravaged by the storm.  I also particularly wanted to photograph a storm in progress because as part of my continuing story, I need to show the coastline in all its moods;  good, bad and particularly ugly.  And I wanted to record some of the sounds of the coast with a newly purchased tape-recorder.

Monday dawned cold with gale force south-westerly winds.  Heavy showers were present but due to abate later.  Still had the runs but not so bad.

I arrived at the Tonga Reserve where the dunny is at about 12.30 pm.  I watched in amazement at the powerful storm surges that frequently ‘tidal bored’ down the extremely bloated Tongaporutu River.  Some of these bores flowed over the boulder stop banks and up onto the parking area.

After this I motored up to Pilot Point.  Roaring winds, a boiling sea and heavy rain clouds racing landwards all but overwhelmed the senses.  And then ... THE THIRD SISTER.  SHE HAD GONE!  Just a stump remained.  It was continually being swamped by the waves.  Large gobs of salt foam whipped up into the air around Mammoth Rock and up into the bush.

A bloke and his two kids had arrived at Pilot Point just before me.  They had been swimming somewhere, but a ‘big wave had knocked them over.’  He took a quick photo then he and his kids buggered off.  I took a couple of photos just before a heavy shower threatened to dump on me.  Windblown sand stung my eyes and it was hard to remain upright.  Bloody awful conditions.  Freezing wind-chill.

Next, I went to Gibbs’ Fishing Point.  I walked through a paddock to get there in atrocious conditions, timing it between vicious showers.  I wasn’t feeling too bright, was cold and the wind, despite having five layers of clothing on, plus my jacket, was chilling me to the bone.  Prior to setting the camera up, I heard a skylark singing!  I recorded it and wondered how the bird managed to stay in one piece, not being ripped to shreds with the shrieking wind.

Shower clouds charged across the sky.  Huge waves were cresting so far out to sea that by the time they arrived at the cliff face (the Wall), they were not able to smash high up the cliff face.  This was because the ‘wash zone’ had extended this far out to sea.  As for the sea state itself, it could only be described as boiling.

My woollen cap kept slipping down over my eyes.  The tripod didn’t want a bar of the action and the light was changing all the time.  And no sooner had I set up then it chucked it down.  I hunkered down behind an earth mound until the shower had passed, then took another couple of photos.  Three in total. At least the supermarket shopping bag afforded my Pentax 6x7 camera some protection against the rain and occasional cliff topping wave spray plumes.  I got wet in spite of wearing wet weather gear, but that didn’t matter.  It was the camera that was important.  I couldn’t tell for sure, but it looked as if ONE OF THE FOUR BROTHERS, like one of the Three Sisters, HAD ALSO BEEN DESTROYED.

I returned to Pilot Point intending to photograph the decimated dune area.  Most of the area had been flooded out.  Sand was being whipped up into a stinging frenzy.  I managed to stumble to the first point that led around to the Pilot Point arch, but even the couple of tidal pools were being pummelled by the screaming wind.  I found it impossible to stay upright so I scrubbed doing any photography.

When I got back to the car, Ewan O’Sullivan and his three dogs came out of their vehicle.  He said that during Sunday night and early Monday morning, the noise of the storm had been like thunder as the waves slammed into the cliffs.  Also, even though their house wasn’t close to the cliffs, it shook with the vibration generated by the waves pummelling the cliffs, such was their force.

Next, it was down the Gibbs’ track that led down to the Three Sisters Beach close to Mammoth Rock.  Russell Gibbs, another man and two young boys were about to head down to photograph the Sisters.  They offered to take me down to the bottom of their track in their land rover.

At the bottom, large patches of salt foam decorated the bushes.  It looked like someone had emptied dish washing liquid all over them.  By now I was just about out of puff.  The diarrhoea and cold were really having an effect on me.  I was almost exhausted.

As I stepped down onto the beach, I noticed that the sea had surged up into the bushes and that vast amounts of sand had been scoured out.  So much so that bedrock and lots of rocks I hadn’t seen before had been exposed.  Then of course there were the Two Sisters and their smashed older sibling.

The cliff faces looked really battered but I couldn’t tell if much material had come down.  I did notice lots of debris rocks in the part caves.  I mulled over whether to risk going to Elephant Rock, but the storm surges came very close up to the cliffs despite it being a very low 0.3m tide.  I also needed to change my roll of film, something I didn’t have the energy to do, especially with a shower coming in and the wind tearing right through me.  This was the first time I haven’t been able to complete all what I’d wanted to do.  I only used one roll of film (10 frames), but I suppose considering the appalling conditions that prevailed, I was lucky to obtain what I did.”


6 October 2003  

Tongaporutu Coastline - Tongaporutu River sand dunes with driftwood


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On Pilot Point looking down on the family of rocks.

Pilot Point Beach including the dune.

The Three Sisters Beach.

On Gibbs’ Fishing Point looking north along the Four Brothers Beach.

The MacKenzies Picnic Table Overlook, looking north over Pinocchio.


Low tide was due at around 2.20 pm.

Decided to go up to Tonga to take advantage of the ‘blink and you’ve missed it’ fine day, as in sunshine.  Down at the Pilot Point beach, though the tide had about an hour and a half to go to low tide, it was still running high after last week’s double whammy of storms.  (Monday 29th September and Friday 3rd October).


I didn’t document Friday’s storm as I work on Fridays.


8 October 2003  

 Tongaporutu Coastline - two of the Four Brothers rock stacks


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At the Petrel Colony on the O’Sullivans’ farm.  This is situated above Rapanui South (the beach).  The photos look both north and south.

The Three Sisters Beach.

The Four Brothers Beach.

A 0.6m low tide was due around mid afternoon.

The weather was quite fine with high cloud and some blue sky.  However, the weather was due to peg out tomorrow.  A light north to north-easterly breeze was blowing.  It wasn’t anything much really.

By the time I arrived at the Four Brothers Beach, there was mostly high, whitish cloud;  good light but not bright sunlight.  There was little wind and the sea state had calmed down with just little waves.


11 October 2003  

 Tongaporutu Coastline - tourists horse trekking, Three Sisters Beach



PHO2008-1059, PHO2008-1060, PHO2008-1061, PHO2008-1062, PHO2008-1061, PHO2008-1062, PHO2008-1064, PHO2008-1065

The Gibbs’ place.

The Three Sisters Beach.

The Tonga Reserve.

Low tide was due around 6 pm.

The weather was mostly cloudy.  Rain had been forecast but fortunately it held off.  It was warmish with a light northerly wind.


23 October 2003  

Tongaporutu Coastline - the R-shaped rock at Rapanui



PHO2008-278, PHO2008-279, PHO2008-280, PHO2008-281

PHO2008-293, PHO2008-294, PHO2008-295, PHO2008-296, PHO2008-297, PHO2008-298, PHO2008-299, PHO2008-300, PHO2008-301, PHO2008-302, PHO2008-303, PHO2008-304

PHO2008-1066, PHO2008-1067, PHO2008-1068, PHO2008-1069, PHO2008-1070, PHO2008-1071, PHO2008-1072, PHO2008-1073, PHO2008-1074, PHO2008-1075, PHO2008-1076, PHO2008-1077, PHO2008-1078, PHO2008-1079, PHO2008-1080, PHO2008-1081

Rapanui South Beach.

On the O’Sullivans’ farm above Rapanui South looking both north and south.


A 0.6m low tide was due at 3 pm.

The weather was mainly fine with some light cloud and a slight westerly breeze blowing.  It was quite hot.


26 October 2003  

 Tongaporutu Coastline - cliff sequencing, R-shaped rock and cliffs from water line



PHO2008-322, PHO2008-323, PHO2008-333

PHO2008-336, PHO2008-338, PHO2008-339, PHO2008-340, PHO2008-341, PHO2008-342, PHO2008-343, PHO2008-344, PHO2008-345, PHO2008-346, PHO2008-347,

PHO2008-349, PHO2008-350, PHO2008-351, PHO2008-352, PHO2008-353

PHO2008-1082, PHO2008-1083, PHO2008-1084, PHO2008-1085, PHO2008-1086, PHO2008-1087, PHO2008-1088, PHO2008-1089, PHO2008-1090

The O’Sullivans’ place.

Pilot Point Beach.

Rapanui South Beach.


A 0.2m low tide was due at 5.13 pm.

CLIFF SEQUENCING on Rapanui South Beach, including the seaward side of Pilot Point Beach.

It was a mostly fine, blue sky day with a stiff south-easterly.  It was quite cool.  The sea state was good.  That was until the wind suddenly changed from a south-easterly to a very cold westerly.  After this ‘on the nose’ wind change, the sea chopped up rather badly.


4 November 2003  

Tongaporutu Coastline - cliff sequencing, Rapanui Beach


PHO2008-354, PHO2008-355, PHO2008-356, PHO2008-357, PHO2008-358, PHO2008-359, PHO2008-360

PHO2008-367, PHO2008-368, PHO2008-369, PHO2008-370, PHO2008-371, PHO2008-372, PHO2008-373, PHO2008-374, PHO2008-375, PHO2008-376, PHO2008-377, PHO2008-378

PHO2008-386, PHO2008-387

PHO2008-1091, PHO2008-1092, PHO2008-1093, PHO2008-1094, PHO2008-1095, PHO2008-1096, PHO2008-1097

The Petrel Colony above Rapanui South Beach.

The Petrel Colony above Rapanui South Beach looking south along the beach.

Rapanui North Beach.

Te Kawau Pa.

Low tide was later in the afternoon.


CLIFF SEQUENCING at Rapanui North Beach.  It was a cold, sunny day with a very strong westerly wind.  A cold front had gone through at around 4 am.  A big, choppy sea was running with lots of flying salt foam.


9 November 2003  

 Tongaporutu Coastline - interior of cave, Te Kawau pā


PHO2008-388, PHO2008-389, PHO2008-390, PHO2008-391, PHO2008-392, PHO2008-393, PHO2008-394, PHO2008-395, PHO2008-396, PHO2008-397

PHO2008-404, PHO2008-405

PHO2008-1099, PHO2008-1100, PHO2008-1101, PHO2008-1102, PHO2008-1103

Te Kawau Pa.

A 0.6m low tide was due just after 5 pm.

The weather was fine with a breezy south-westerly.  A bit of a swell was running, but nothing humungous.  Not as calm though as I would have liked.

19 November 2003  

PHO2008-406, PHO2008-407, PHO2008-408, PHO2008-409, PHO2008-410

PHO2008-1104, PHO2008-1105, PHO2008-1106, PHO2008-1107, PHO2008-1108, PHO2008-1109, PHO2008-1110, PHO2008-1111, PHO2008-1112

The Stock Tunnel.

The bush and White Cliffs.

On the Gibbs’ Top Paddock looking north over Twin Creeks.

By late afternoon the tide was a fair way in.

There was a clear blue sky.  It was fairly breezy with a medium sea state.


24 November 2003  

PHO2008-411, PHO2008-412, PHO2008-413, PHO2008-414, PHO2008-415

PHO2008-418, PHO2008-419, PHO2008-420, PHO2008-421, PHO2008-422, PHO2008-423, PHO2008-424, PHO2008-425, PHO2008-426, PHO2008-427

PHO2008-1113, PHO2008-1114, PHO2008-1115, PHO2008-1116, PHO2008-1117, PHO2008-1118, PHO2008-1119, PHO2008-1120, PHO2008-1121



Pilot Point Beach.

The Three Sisters Beach.

The Point

The Four Brothers Beach.


A 0.3m low tide was due at 4.55 pm.

The sky was a mix of high, white cloud and blue sky.  There was quite a stiff westerly blowing.  There was a fair surf running, but it all seemed to be jumbled up at the wave-line.  No huge surges were present.  At the family of rocks at Pilot Point, the pools that surrounded them were covered in lots of cappuccino like brown salt foam.  This foam was also present on the Three Sisters Beach.



1 December 2003  

PHO2008-428, PHO2008-429

PHO2008-437, PHO2008-438, PHO2008-439, PHO2008-440, PHO2008-441, PHO2009-442, PHO2008-443, PHO2008-444, PHO2008-445, PHO2008-446, PHO2008-447, PHO2008-448


PHO2008-1122, PHO2008-1123, PHO2008-1124, PHO2008-1125, PHO2008-1126, PHO2008-1127, PHO2008-1128, PHO2008-1129, PHO-1130

The Three Sisters Beach.

The Brothers Overlook, (on the MacKenzies’ farm) looking south towards Gibbs’ Fishing Point.

On Gibbs’ Fishing Point, on the fishing ledge proper.

Low tide was due at around 11.30 am.

The day was mostly fine with some innocuous fluffs of cloud.  There was very little in the way of a breeze and it was warm.  The sea state was quite calm and the waves were nothing to shout home about.

3 December 2003  


PHO2008-457, PHO2008-458, PHO2008-459, PHO2008-460

PHO2008-1131, PHO2008-1132, PHO2008-1133, PHO2008-1134, PHO2008-1135, PHO2008-1136, PHO2008-1137, PHO2008-1138, PHO2008-1139, PHO2008-1140, PHO2008-1141, PHO2008-1142, PHO2008-1143, PHO2008-1144, PHO2008-1145, PHO2008-1146, PHO2008-1147, PHO2008-1148


The MacKenzies Picnic Table Overlook, looking north along the Four Brothers Beach.

The Brothers Overlook , looking south towards Gibbs’ Fishing Point.

High tide was due at 7.09 pm.

Wall to wall cloud dominated the sky.  There was some drizzle, although it had been forecast to be fine.  There was virtually no wind.  I had gone up in the hope of getting some great last light, but things didn’t look promising.

At the Brothers Overlook, the first thing I noticed was that although there was virtually no wind, there was a two metre swell running.  These gave rise to spectacular wave ‘splash ups’ on the cliffs and rock stacks.  It was also very noisy.  I had my tape recorder with me this time to record things.  I had several lenses, including my big 300 mm telephoto lens.  Two fishermen who were on the fishing ledge on Gibbs’ Fishing Point were perfect for scale.

As the day began to draw to a close I waited and waited for the light hopefully to appear.  Then magically, the clouds above me began to develop holes in them.  Finally, the sun dropped into a narrow ribbon of clear air just above the horizon.  Suddenly, the Twin Arches and parts of the cliffs were now bathed in the most amazing light.  This was made even more amazing by the cliffs being wet, giving them a beautiful ‘wet glow’.



9 December 2003  

Tongaporutu Coastline - Twin Creeks


PHO2008-461, PHO2008-462, PHO2008-463, PHO2008-464, PHO2008-465

PHO2008-468, PHO2008-470, PHO2008-471, PHO2008-472

PHO2008-1149, PHO2008-1150, PHO2008-1151, PHO2008-1152, PHO2008-1153, PHO2008-1154, PHO2008-1155, PHO2008-1156

The Stock Tunnel.

White Cliffs beach.

Bush and White Cliffs.

On the Gibbs’ Top Paddock looking south over White Cliffs.

On the Gibbs’ Top Paddock looking north over Twin Creeks.

Twin Creeks beach.


High tide was due at 11.06 am and a 0.8m low tide was due at 5.14 pm.

The day was wrapped up in a blanket of low cloud.  There was no wind and rain was forecast.  At Tonga there was a very slight to nothing north-easterly breeze.  The sea state was very calm with mirror patches dotted here and there.  At Twin Creeks the odd miniscule wave splooshed through the arch that past butch waves had carved from the right sided headland.  The northern creek that flowed past the arch was discoloured with runoff.

The track towards White Cliffs was muddy due to recent rain.  It was very hot and cloud/mist hovered over Whitecliffs.  Rain set in later on.



20 December 2003  

Tongaporutu Coastline - The Fledglings on Beach One from Gibbs' Fishing Point


PHO2008-473, PHO2008-474, PHO2008-475, PHO2008-476,

PHO2008-1157, PHO2008-1158, PHO2008-1159, PHO2008-1160, PHO2008-1161, PHO2008-1162, PHO2008-1163, PHO2008-1164, PHO2008-1164, PHO2008-1165, PHO2008-1166, PHO2008-1167, PHO2008-1168, PHO2008-1169

The Tongaporutu hall.

The Tonga baches.

The Tonga Reserve.

Pilot Point Beach.

The Gibbs family at their farm.

Low tide was due later in the afternoon.

At Pilot Point it was high cloud or ‘cloudy-bright’ in photographers’ parlance.  However, rain was forecast for later that evening.

26 December 2003  

Tongaporutu Coastline - Four Brothers Beach


PHO2008-477, PHO2008-478, PHO2008-479

PHO2008-486, PHO2008-487, PHO2008-488

PHO2008-1170, PHO2008-1171, PHO2008-1172

The Three Sisters Beach.

The Point.

The Four Brothers Beach.

A 0.4m low tide was due at 6.25 pm.

During the past week there had been a couple of heavy dumps of rain.  Today, there was a strong westerly, it was cold and there were frequent showers.  Down at the beach it was very windy and a substantial sea was running.  Wave surges were coming three quarters of the way up the beach, even though it was just two hours until low tide.  The Tonga River was very high and there was also a lot of flotsam at the high tide mark.

As I approached the Four Brothers, a large wave surge drove me right up to the cliff, so I looked for the highest (two foot above the water-line) rock that I could find.  I photographed this surge, including part of the cliff and the oldest Brother to show that during storm surge conditions, low tides are anything but.


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