On Saturday morning the phone rang before I’d even got out of bed. It was my friend Amy (in bed with a cup of tea, toast and a good book!), wondering if I was up for an outdoor adventure. She’d spent the week in front of the computer and needed some nature and exercise to clear out the cobwebs. Having spent most of the week in front of the computer myself, I immediately jumped at the idea.
We decided to go to Anawhata, which is actually the next beach down the coast from where I live, but to get there it’s an hour’s drive (with the last part being down a long, winding, unsealed road), and then a half hour’s walk though the bush from where you park the car. I’ve actually never been to Anawhata before (shame on me!) which made it even more of an adventure.
The walk down through the bush was beautiful. Twisting Manuka branches silhouetted against the sky, a great fallen Rata tree that you had to duck underneath, and an unexpected carved face nestled in the tussock.
Just before the beach we came across a hand painted sign. Half hidden in the bushes, with lichen growing amongst the letters, it said: Keep our world clean and green it’s the only one we have. Every beach should have one of these signs!
Anawhata is a typical West Coast beach (rugged, wind-swept, black sand, rocky islands and outcrops, surrounded by bush, river running down through it), but with its own unique personality. It’s much more enclosed than the other beaches I know, with lots of nooks and crannies to explore.
The first thing we did was sit down and have a picnic. We’d come prepared. Actually, we’d come over prepared! Amy had brought toasted pitta breads with three different filling options: cheese, green pepper and herbs; cheese, olives and herbs; and fried egg and herbs. Yum! She’d also brought dried apricots and almonds. I brought carrot and courgette sticks with homemade basil pesto, apple slices, and bottles of our home rainwater with mint leaves.
Replenished, we started exploring.
We kept finding spirals of seaweed, and there were great tangled masses of bull kelp.
We’re both avid beachcombers, and made collections of flotsam and jetsam: coloured plastic and seeds, a crab shell and a Pohutukawa leaf, white spirals from inside of deep sea squids, a segment of a sand dollar, and a line of driftwood crowned with Neptune’s necklace seaweed.
We discovered that most of the human-created flotsam we found was all in one colour palette: industrial orange, vivid blue, jade green and red. Bottle caps, various bits of string, a faded orange rubber glove that looked like a lobster’s back… and my trainers!
We drew in the sand…
And on the way back we made a bridge out of driftwood across the little river.
We climbed back up the hill to the car physically tired, but really happy. It had been exactly what we both needed. A perfect Autumn adventure at the beach.