Topic: Storm - 2008

Topic type:

2008

23 January 2008  

PHO2011-1148, PHO2008-1149, PHO2008-1150, PHO2008-1151, PHO2008-1152, PHO2008-1153, PHO2008-1154, PHO2008-1155, PHO2008-1156, PHO2008-1157

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

The MacKenzies Picnic Table Overlook, looking down on Cathedral Cave.

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

Gibbs’ Fishing Point looking west over Gull Rock.

Te Kawau Pa.

The Pilot Point Road Cemetery.

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

 

A 3.4m high tide was due at 11.47 am and a 0.4m low tide was due at 5.39 pm.  Full moon.

 

The day was partly cloudy with a strong south-westerly.  Yesterday saw the remnants of Cyclone Funa packing north-westerly gales, pummel Taranaki and the lower North Island.  Though the tropical depression had unleashed powerful winds, it dumped virtually nothing of the wet stuff that the land has been crying out for.  This summer has thus far been exceptionally hot and dry, thanks to La Nina.  Though the swell was large and rapacious, I felt that it had been slightly blunted somewhat due to the change in wind direction.

 

At the Mackenzies Picnic Table Overlook at the spot that overlooked Cathedral Cave, I noticed that all of the Californian thistles on the cliff side of the fence were flattened in a southerly direction.  On the other side of the fence, rectangular haystacks dotted the parched paddocks.

 

 

10 February 2008  

PHO2011-1158, PHO2008-1159, PHO2008-1160, PHO2008-1161, PHO2008-1162, PHO2008-1163, PHO2008-1164, PHO2008-1165, PHO2008-1166, PHO2006-1167, PHO2008-1168, PHO2008-1169, PHO2008-1170, PHO2008-1171, PHO2008-1172, PHO2008-1173, PHO2008-1174, PHO2008-1175, PHO2008-1176, PHO2008-1177, PHO2008-1178

 

The Locked Gate looking south over the cliffs above Beach One.

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

Gibbs’ Fishing Point looking south along Beach One.

On Pilot Point looking east over the estuary towards the Tonga baches.

Pilot Point Beach, specifically the dune area.

The Three Sisters Beach.

The Four Brothers Beach.

The Fledglings Overlook, looking south along Beach One.

 

A 3.6m high tide was due at 12.54 pm and a 0.3m low tide was due at 7.14 pm.  Just after new moon.

 

There was a light northerly, sea mist, wall to wall cloud and light rain as the country was assailed by a family of feeble fronts.  In the meantime, the country had been experiencing DROUGHT CONDITIONS on an almost unprecedented scale.  Today it was hot and humid and there had been some beautiful rain, but we needed heaps more.  As the day progressed, the rain downgraded to Scotch mist and then it eventually stopped.

Due to the light breeze, I was surprised at the size of the swell.  It didn’t appear to be storm surge, just a large swell.  While on the Four Brothers Beach I was struck by the eerie light on the oldest Brother and Gull Rock.  It was like some sort of backlighting in the fog.  Light bouncing off water droplets.  It reminded me of Lord of the Rings.

After I had finished for the day and was leaving the Gibbs’ farm, I got a flat tyre.  After much cursing and finally changing the tyre, the sky lit up with a wonderous light.  I rushed back firstly to the Fledglings Overlook and photographed Beach One with White Cliffs in the background.  And secondly, I rushed to the northern end of the Gibbs’ Fishing Point and photographed the last of the light looking along the Four Brothers Beach.

 

9 March 2008  

PHO2011-1179, PHO2011-1180, PHO2011-1181, PHO2011-1182, PHO2008-1183, PHO2008-1184, PHO2008-1185, PHO2008-1186, PHO2008-1187, PHO2008-1188, PHO2008-1189, PHO2008-1190, PHO2008-1191

Twin Creeks.

Above the reef on Beach One looking north along Beach One.

Above the reef on Beach One looking down on the reef.

 

A 0.2m low tide was due at 6.09 pm.  Just after new moon.

The weather was clouding up as a weak front was forecast to move through.  The wind was a brisk westerly.  Up at Tonga I could see the weather front in the distance. (New Plymouth side).  Cloud was already scraping over the top of Whitecliffs.  The sea was choppy.  More like a slop than angry surf.

The surrounding countryside was bone dry and the cattle and sheep had eaten everything right down in the paddocks.  Not that they were being deliberately starved, it’s just that the grass had stopped growing.  It had been an incredibly hot and dry with no end in sight.  Except of course when I came up to Tonga!  It seemed that if the weather was going to do a wobbly, then the wobble coincided with the new moon and the very low tides.

At Twin Creeks, both creeks were running exceptionally low.  Barely a trickle of water gasped towards the sea.  In the through cave I was in a stiff breeze was being funnelled through.  I was amazed at high the chamber roof was.  It was the highest of any of the other through or closed caves I have been in.  Rough seas must be truly stupendous here, as evidenced by the rapid destruction of the Middle Rock.  Unfortunately, the stormiest months of the year are off-limits due to lambing.  This is a pity for it must be truly awesome here during a massive storm.

With regards to the sea, though technically the sea was ‘rough’, it was more like a short chop.  In other words the waves were more dumpers than rushers that raced up the beach.  Their sound signature was also obviously different.

6 April 2008  

PHO2011-1192, PHO2011-1193, PHO2011-1194, PHO2011-1195, PHO2011-1196, PHO2011-1197, PHO2011-1198, PHO2011-1199, PHO2011-1200, PHO2011-1201, PHO2011-1202, PHO2011-1203, PHO2011-1204, PHO2011-1205, PHO2011-1206, PHO2011-1207

Twin Creeks.

On the Maori Pa promontory looking south over Twin Creeks and towards White Cliffs.

On the Maori Pa promontory looking north over Beach Two.

Above the reef on Beach One looking north along Beach One.

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

The Three Sisters Beach.

The Four Brothers Beach.

On the Three Sisters Beach looking north over the Tonga River towards Pilot Point Beach.

A 0.2m low tide was due at 4.00 pm.  Almost new moon.

Rain was forecast for later on.  At Twin Creeks it was sunny but with high cloud.  The cloud was darker further south towards New Plymouth and Mt Egmont.  There was absolutely no wind and it was stinking hot.  So hot in fact that you could have stood there in the nuddy and still been too hot.  The rain we received recently though nice, wasn’t a drought-breaker up here.  Everything is truly gasping for moisture.

The sea state was glassy but with big rollers coming in.  They were quite spectacular.  I could see why it was such a volatile area here with due to the curvature and unique topography of the bay, waves were being forced back onto other waves.  There was a lot of ‘back slurping’.  For instance, waves coming straight into/onto the beach would frequently be smacked into by outgoing waves at a roughly 75 degree angle as opposed to directly being forwards/backwards or straight line opposites.  Perhaps ‘angled crossover waves’ might be a better way of putting it.

Later on the sky darkened considerably.  After I had finished for the day, I trudged back towards Mammoth Rock on the Three Sisters Beach.  As I did so, I was struck by the juxtaposition of a light foreground and a dark background.  Specifically, the estuary, incoming surf and the Two Sisters were ‘light’, while Whitecliffs and a just visible Mt Egmont were almost consumed by a nearly black sky.  Most photographic landscapes of this genre are usually the opposite way around.  That is, bright sky/ dark foreground when photographing either early or late in magic light.  To get around this a graduated neutral density filter is usually employed.  However, in this opposite light/dark situation I just had to correctly expose for the light foreground and let the dark background stay dark.  My only regret was in not having my standard 105 m lens to record it.  I had to settle for my 55 mm wide angle lens.

 

20 April 2008  

PHO2011-1208, PHO2011-1209, PHO2011-1210, PHO2011-1211, PHO2011-1212, PHO2011-1213, PHO2011-1214, PHO2011-1215, PHO2011-1216, PHO2011-1217, PHO2011-1218, PHO2011-1219, PHO2011-1220, PHO2011-1221, PHO2011-1222, PHO2011-1223, PHO2011-1224, PHO2011-1225, PHO2011-1226

 

Above the reef on Beach One looking north along Beach One.

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

On the fishing ledge proper on Gibbs Fishing Point looking at the fossilized tree remains in the cliff.

On the fishing ledge proper on Gibbs Fishing Point looking south past Gull Rock towards Whitecliffs.

Te Kawau Pa.

Pilot Point Beach.

Rapanui South Beach.

A 0.5m low tide was due at 3.58 pm.  Full moon.

The weather was blue sky sunny with a stiff cold south-easterly.  The sea state was relatively calm.  PHO2011-1211 and 1212 were taken on the fishing ledge proper on Gibbs’ Fishing Point.  PHO2011-1212 in particular shows how wave plumes can carve out chunks of cliff at this height above sea-level and higher still.

 

6 May 2008  

PHO2011-1227, PHO2011-1228, PHO2011-1229, PHO2011-1230, PHO2011-1231, PHO2011-1232, PHO2011-1233

PHO2011-1930

 

The Three Sisters Beach.

The Point.

The Four Brothers Beach.

 

A 0.2m low tide was due at 4.22 pm.  New moon.

 

There was wall to wall blue sky and this was accompanied by a cold light southerly breeze.  It had been very wet during the past few days and very windy, the wind coming from the south-east.  Down on the beach, atmospheric conditions were clear.  The storm surge was relatively small due to the flattening effect of offshore winds, (south-easterlies).  Although the wind was from the south today and on the beach, it was only at light breeze force.

 

3 June 2008  

PHO2011-1234, PHO2011-1235, PHO2011-1236, PHO2011-1237, PHO2011-1238, PHO2011-1239

PHO2011-1879, PHO2011-1880

 

Twin Creeks

Above the reef on Beach One, looking north along Beach One.

The Fledglings Overlook, looking south along Beach One.

Gibbs’ Fishing Point looking south along Beach One.

Gibb’s Fishing Point looking west over Gull Rock.

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

 

A 0.3m low tide was due at 3.14 pm.  Just before new moon.

The weather was fine with some friendly white clouds.  However, a darker cloud bank was filling the western horizon.  Though a south-westerly wind had been blowing when I’d left home, at Twin Creeks I was surprised at how calm it was.  There was no wind at all and the sea was glassy but with a slight swell running.  As for the two streams that flowed onto the beach, both were running low.  There were no gushing torrents.

After finishing at Twin Creeks, light rain set in and conditions changed.  At my final pit stop at Gibbs’ Fishing Point, some nice late light pierced the rain clouds and I got one or two nice images.

 

25 June 2008  

PHO2011-1240, PHO2011-1241, PHO2011-1242

PHO2011-1881, PHO2011-1882

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

The MacKenzies Picnic Table Overlook, looking over Cathedral Cave.

The Fledglings Overlook, looking north over the Fledglings towards Gull Rock.

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

 

A 3.0m high tide was due at 2.14 pm.  Just before a third quarter new moon.

We have been having some crap weather lately with howling winds.  Today there was a south-westerly gale.  Very big seas were running and the noise was deafening.  The conditions were quite horrible.  After I had finished, I could see a wall of dark cloud advancing.  This was the front that had been forecast.  I hadn’t really got anything special and regretted coming up.

 

20 July 2008  

PHO2011-1243, PHO2011-1244, PHO2011-1245, PHO2011-1246, PHO2011-1247, PHO2011-1248, PHO2011-1250, PHO2011-1251, PHO2011-1252, PHO2011-1253, PHO2011-1254, PHO2011-1255, PHO2011-1256, PHO2011-1257, PHO2011-1258, PHO2011-1259, PHO2011-1260

 

Te Kawau Pa.

The Three Sisters Beach looking across the Tonga River towards Pilot Point.

The Three Sisters Beach.

Pilot Point Beach.

 

A 0.6m low tide was due at 5.15 pm.  Full moon.

 

SUPER-STORM EVENT - Super-Storm One.  This was also a borderline alpha storm.

 

We have had a low pressure system from the north with north-westery winds and westerly winds with a lot of rain.

 

Up at Te Kawau Pa, the wild conditions had scrubbed the beach mostly clean of sand.  A lot more rocks were evident.  At Tonga itself I was greeted by huge seas.  The sea was brown with runoff from the engorged Tonga River.  It was much rougher than I had anticipated for I didn’t think the wind, though strong, was particularly different from other fronts, but it obviously was.

 

Down on the Three Sisters Beach proper, I was stunned to see that the PILOT POINT ARCH HAD GONE!  I later discovered that the PILOT POINT CAVE, where my project started, HAD ALSO BEEN DESTROYED.  As for the Three Sisters Beach, well, it had been monstered by the vigorous depression.  It was the worst destruction I have seen and quite surprising as I have documented seemingly more potent storms.  The wind was howling, the sea raging and horizontal rain was sleeting in.  As I approached the Three Sisters, the beach had been scoured right down to its bare bones of rocks and rock platforms.  I wouldn’t be accessing the Four Brothers Beach today.

 

From what I could see, the coastline had been truly monstered.  It made me wonder what else had been totalled in places I had yet to visit.

FOOTNOTE;  22.7.2008.  Another massive storm system is on its way.  I have just experienced a wind downburst which blew open the windows on the opposite side of the house to the wind direction.  Also, the large plank of wood on the garage roof blew off.  Scary stuff.  I suppose there will be more massive erosion up on the Tonga coastline as the wind direction is from the north-west.

 

24 July 2008  

PHO2011-1261, PHO2011-1262, PHO2011-1263, PHO2011-1264, PHO2011-1265, PHO2011-1266, PHO2011-1267, PHO2011-1268, PHO2011-1269, PHO2011-1270, PHO2011-1271, PHO2011-1272

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

The Fledglings Overlook, looking down on the Fledglings and north towards Gull Rock.

The Fledglings Overlook, looking south along Beach One.

On the Three Sisters Beach looking across the Tonga River towards Pilot Point.

The Three Sisters Beach.

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

A 3.1m high tide was due at 1.41 pm.  A few days after full moon.

SUPER-STORM EVENT – Super-Storm Two.  This was also an alpha storm.

A severe storm with north-westerly winds had pounded the North Island yesterday.  Heavy rain, high winds and huge swells were its calling cards.

Having documented the massive damage at Pilot Point on the 20th (Sunday), I wanted to document any further damage for comparison purposes.  The weather today was ‘calm’ with a light southerly.

The weather chart showed 7m swells.  Up at Tonga that was the first thing I noticed;  a tremendous swell with massive waves breaking cleanly well offshore.  At Gibbs’ Fishing Point, huge backwash waves were quite spectacular.  They are quite a distinctive feature here due to the unique topography of this location.

Down at the Three Sisters Beach, I could see that the STORM SURGE HAD OVERTOPPED THE DUNE BANK.  Also, you could no longer access the beach from the usual spot.  This had been gouged out and there was about a five foot drop to the beach.  I followed a track around to the rear of Mammoth Rock and then it struck me what was different.  THE SAND BRIDGE THAT HAD CONNECTED THE DUNE AREA TO MAMMOTH ROCK HAD GONE!

After this revelation, I clambered up onto an outcrop of Mammoth Rock to get an overview across the Tonga River towards Pilot Point.  As I climbed up, I slipped on some muddy rock and fell forward.  My mistake.  Nothing too horrendous.  By the time I had gingerly secured my footing on a dryer rock layer than a huge surge swept past.  Had I been on the beach, I would have been swept away.  This surge or ‘storm bore’ came in like a train on steroids – tremendous energy.  Past knowledge of such things had kept me safe for now.

The sea, though going out, seemed ‘high’.  This to mean that due to storm surge it was more bulked up than usual.  Specifically, the lower the depression’s pressure is, the higher the sea level.  The beach itself had been swept clean.  All the logs and other debris dead sheep, etc., had vanished.  Such was the power of the waves that I could hear the loose rocks clinking together.

FOOTNOTE:  Russell Gibbs later attested that the sand bar that had joined the dune to Mammoth Rock had been intact for at least 40 years.

 

3 August 2008  

PHO2011-1273, PHO2011-1274, PHO2011-1275, PHO2011-1276, PHO2011-1277, PHO2011-1278, PHO2011-1279, PHO2011-1280, PHO2011-1281, PHO2011-1282

The Three Sisters Beach.

Pilot Point Beach.

A 0.3m low tide was due at 5.14 pm.  Just after new moon.

SUPER-STORM EVENT – Super-Storm Three

The low tide was later than I would have liked, but with storm conditions over the past couple of weeks I didn’t have much choice.  This was the third storm in a trilogy and it had been very wet before they occurred.  It was cold, showery and very wind.  The wind was once again from the north-west.  Being ill with the flu added to the mix.  I didn’t really feel well enough to go up to Tonga, but knew that I couldn’t afford to miss this event.

Down at the bottom of the Gibbs’ track that led onto the Three Sisters Beach, I was amazed at how much additional destruction had occurred.  Where there had been a two and a half foot drop to the beach, then a five foot drop was now a ten foot drop.  This part of the dune was being wave eroded back towards the track.

Lots of small stones littered the beach and a large clump of flax lay close to the low tide mark.  The damage was tremendous.  Huge, ten foot sand walls at the dune’s leading edge (beach side of the dune), yielded to huge gouges that extended far up the cliff face that led around to the first arch.

Judging by the current level of damage, I concluded that with each successive storm, the damage doubled.  In effect, the three storms ‘combined’ to form a super-storm.  Because they followed so closely to each other, their effect was cumulative.  That is, with insufficient recovery time between the individual storms, they collectively acted as one.  I determined this from the two and a half foot, five foot and ten foot erosion of the beach facing dune face that occurred over the lifecycle of the three storms.  Thus the last storm was the most devastating, not because it was bigger than its predecessors, but because of the cumulative effect of the other two storms.

At Pilot Point, even though it was a 0.3m low tide, wave surges were coming in closer than during the Super-Storm One surge conditions when the 0.6m low tide was higher.  This was despite the sea conditions of today, though bad, they weren’t as potent as during the first storm.  The reason the waves may be accessing further up the beach today may be due to more silt/soil/sand having been washed away since then.  In other words, the overall beach height was now lower than before.

The big boulders from the massive cliff collapse at the Pilot Point arch first observed on 20.7.08 were all there, but were more rounded due to wave action and rain.  The storm surge was coming right up to the rocks, making getting around the Point quite tricky.  I had to time my runs between surges.  At the Pilot Point cave, the arch had lost its top and was now a new free-standing rock stack that I whimsically named Pat’s Stack.  As I stood in a similar spot to where the Tongaporutu Project had originally begun on 27.4.2003, the way I felt, wretched with the flu, this was where it could all end.  By now I had had enough.  The cold, wet and wind were really hammering home.

18 August 2008  

PHO2011-1283, PHO2011-1284, PHO2011-1285, PHO2011-1286, PHO2011-1287, PHO2011-1288, PHO2011-1289, PHO2011-1290, PHO2011-1291, PHO2011-1292, PHO2011-1293, PHO2011-1294, PHO2011-1295, PHO2011-1296, PHO2011-1297, PHO2011-1298, PHO2011-1299, PHO2011-1300, PHO2011-1301

The locked gate looking down on Beach One.

The locked gate looking north along Beach One.

The locked gate looking north across the farm road, Beach One and up the coast.

The Fledglings Overlook, looking south along Beach One.

The Three Sisters Beach.

The Three Sisters Beach looking north across the Tonga River towards Pilot Point.

A 0.4m low tide was due at 4.48 pm.  Just after full moon.

Today was a sort of break in the terrible weather we have been having these past few weeks.  The wind was a gentle south-easterly, but it was due to change to a strong south-westerly later.  The weather was mostly fine with just the odd shower cloud skulking around.  The sea state was reasonable.

Due to the huge amount of rain and the frequency of it, there had been a massive amount of erosion.  I decided against going down to Gibbs’ Fishing Point and went instead to the Fledglings Overlook above Beach One.  The grass had all been burnt due to the ferocious winds and salt spray that had recently partied here.

 

31 August 2008  

PHO2011-1302, PHO2011-1303, PHO2011-1304, PHO2011-1305, PHO2011-1306, PHO2011-1307, PHO2011-1307, PHO2011-1308, PHO2011-1309, PHO2011-1310, PHO2011-1311, PHO2011-1312, PHO2011-1313, PHO2011-1314, PHO2011-1315, PHO2011-1316, PHO2011-1317

On the O’Sullivan’s farm looking down on the Pilot Point cave and south towards the Three Sisters Beach.

On the O’Sullivan’s farm looking down on the southern part of Rapanui South Beach.

On the O’Sullivan’s farm looking north along Rapanui South Beach.

Pilot Point Beach, including the dune.

Rapanui South Beach.

A 0.3m low tide was due at 4.10 pm.  New moon.

The weather was mostly fine with a northerly breeze.  As I struggled down the Pilot Point track, I heard a blackbird singing.  I am still recovering from the flu I had nearly six weeks ago.  There was a fair swell running, but the tide had gone a long way out so I was okay.

 

28 September 2008  

PHO2011-1318, PHO2011-1319, PHO2011-1320, PHO2011-1321, PHO2011-1322, PHO2011-1323, PHO2011-1324, PHO2011-1325, PHO2011-1326, PHO2011-1327, PHO2011-1328, PHO2011-1328, PHO2011-1329, PHO2011-1330, PHO2011-1331, PHO2011-1332, PHO2011-1333, PHO2011-1334, PHO2011-1335, PHO2011-1336

 

Gibbs’ Fishing Point looking south along Beach One.

(NOTE:  This viewpoint always includes the largest Fledgling in the foreground.  It is mentioned in the diary entry of 3.1.2001 but not subsequently).

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

On the Gibbs’ farm above the Three Sisters Beach looking north across the Tonga River towards Pilot Point.

On the Gibbs’ farm looking down on part of the Three Sisters Beach.

The Four Brothers Beach.

The Three Sisters Beach.

 

A 0.4m low tide was due at 4.07 pm.  Just before new moon.

Upon arrival at Tonga, there was horizon to horizon blue sky with just a few puffs of tiny clouds.  Mt Egmont was clear apart from a tiny puff of resident cloud.  A light north-easterly breeze was blowing.  The sea, though technically calm had a large storm swell running.

On the Three Sisters Beach, the beach was slowly regaining new sand, but large areas of bedrock and exposed rock remained.  Combined with powerful storm surge conditions, the sea and waves were coming right in, making a mockery of the low tide.  However, with about an hour to go until actual low tide, the sea relented a little and I was able to access the Four Brothers Beach.

 

12 October 2008  

PHO2011-1337-1355

Twin Creeks.

The Maori Pa promontory looking north along Beach Two.

The Maori Pa promontory looking south along Twin Creeks towards Whitecliffs.

Above the reef looking north along Beach One.

Pilot Point Beach.

A 0.8m low tide was due at 2.54 pm.  Three days before full moon.

The weather was fine with high white cloud.  It was accompanied by a slight westerly breeze.  At Twin Creeks it was very hot.  The sea state was fairly calm with just a small swell running.

 

15 October 2008  

PHO2011-1356-1365

The Three Sisters Beach.

The Point.

The Four Brothers Beach.

A 0.3m low tide was due at 4.55 pm.  Full moon.

The weather and sea conditions were similar to that of the 12th, but the breeze now came from the north.  A weather front was due in the near future.

12 November 2008  

PHO2011-1366-1405

Rapanui South Beach.

Pilot Point Beach.

Pilot Point Beach looking north across the Tonga River towards the Three Sisters Beach.

The Three Sisters Beach.

A 0.4m low tide was due at 3.47 pm.  Just before full moon.

CLIFF SEQUENCING on Rapanui South Beach and Pilot Point, excluding the dune.

Also, there was a massive CLIFF SECTION COLLAPSE on the Three Sisters Beach.

 

The weather was fine with some sea mist type white puffy clouds, but it was mostly a blue sky day.  There was a slight westerly breeze.  The sea state was good and the water was quite warm.

 

Down on the beach at Pilot Point, I noticed three things.  The first was how far out the sand bar extended, which was good.  Also, the sand level was high.  The second was, due to the heat, steam was rising from the cool, wet sand.  It delivered sauna-like conditions.  And third, I noticed a lot of plant material;  flaxes, coprosma, and scrubby branches of pohutukawa ...  These were sure signs of a recent cliff collapse.

 

None were evident on this northern side of the Tonga River.  Then I looked across to the Three Sisters Beach.  What I saw totally stunned me.  There was this HUGE, ABSOLUTELY MASSIVE ‘FLOOD’ OF ROCK AND SOIL THAT STREAMED DOWN ONTO THE BEACH LIKE AN AVALANCE.  It was located immediately north of and just to the rear of the Three Sisters.

 

Plant material from this gargantuan collapse had travelled right up to the Rapanui River.  I didn’t go up any further than this, but presumed that plant debris had travelled even further north up the coast.  The prevailing current travels up the coast in a roughly south-north direction, parallel to the coast.  Only on one occasion have I observed plant material being transported in the opposite direction (south) from the site of origin.

 

23 November 2008  

PHO2011-1406-1423

On the Gibbs’ farm above the Three Sisters Beach.

The Three Sisters Beach.

 

A 0.9m low tide was due at 1.40 pm.  Five days before new moon.

Normally I wouldn’t go up to Tonga with such a high low tide as access is too restricted.  However, I wanted to document the evolution of the massive cliff section collapse that I documented on the 12th.  We have had one lot of rain since then so more erosion could have occurred, combined with the tides.

 

I had planned to go up on Monday as heavy rain was forecast for today, Sunday.  However, the rain held off.  There was some blue sky but it was frequently covered by a lot of thin white cloud.  There was a stiff northerly and it was very hot.  Though the wind was quite strong, being a northerly, it was running directly down the coast.  This had the effect of dampening the incoming waves – they ran obliquely.  This meant that instead of them coming on-shore at 100% energy, 70% of their energy was being deflected ‘down beach’ so to speak, thus only 30% of their energy arrived face on.

 

14 December 2008  

PHO2011-1424-1470

 

The Three Sisters Beach.

The Point.

The Four Brothers Beach.

 

A 0.2m low tide was due at 6.04 pm.  Just after full moon.

 

CLIFF SEQUENCING.  I had booked in to stay at the Gibbs’ motel unit for a couple of days.  It was forecast to be fine for the weekend, but crapping out (rain/wind) for Monday as a large storm was pumping up in the Tasman.  Though Saturday was perfect with all day sun and very little wind, today, Sunday, was less than perfect.  There was a lot more cloud and it was coming down from the north, north-west.

 

Down on the beach it was hot, the sea was calm with just a slight offshore breeze.  There was high cloud with some blue, but cloud on the horizon was spilling down from the north in a V formation.

 

15 December 2008  

PHO2011-1471-1486

 

Rapanui North Beach looking south.

Rapanui North Beach looking north, including the dune.

Above the reef looking north along Beach One.

Twin Creeks.

Te Kawau Pa.

 

A 0.3m low tide was due at 6.56 pm.  Two days after full moon.

 

CLIFF SEQUENCING, Rapanui North.  Due to the weather, this turned out to be abridged.  The day (Monday) dawned dullsville with wall to wall cloud and a light drizzle.  I could now hear the sea from the Gibbs’ unit whereas yesterday I couldn’t.  There was a slight northerly breeze blowing.  However, due to a more energetic sea state, doing another low tide session was out of the question.  The sea was green/gray in colour and matched my mood.  The misty rain stopped around lunchtime, although it was still hammering away down New Plymouth way.

 

At Twin Creeks, the northern remaining section of the Middle Rock looked set to be demolished in the near future.  Though the tide was going out, a big sea was running.  Certain waves, when they hit at the right angle and with the right wave formation, really slammed into the rock.  The pressure wave travelling through the rock would have been high.  I also noticed that due to the topography of the left and right promontories, coupled with the Middle Rock, this caused more complex wave action than that on a straight beach.  Specifically, waves going out combined with incoming waves.  This caused them to swirl and twist.

 

The wave action here, combined with the outflows of the twin creeks, especially during flood, increased the wave dynamics in this location.  The waves tend to be more energetic, more diverse in wave type and move in multiple directions.

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