It’s been a while since we’ve walked around Breaker Bay. The other week I drove past with the girls and they both asked to do the walk, but I wanted to wait till the weekend and share it with Dan. We like to start at Churchill Park. There’s a children’s playground, toilets and a memorial to the Wahine disaster, which was erected in the early 1990s (there’s also Wahine Memorial Park, further round the Breaker Bay coast road).
We started off with a picnic lunch and a run around at the playground before following the footpath around the rugged coastline. There are always plenty of treasures to find on the beach here and of interest is the old look-out posts left over from the war. Before rounding the corner to Breaker Bay itself there is a small cave, tucked away in the rock face – you have to walk past the corner, continuing towards the sea, and past some rugged outcrops of rocks to find it. On our way we spotted an Australasian Gannet. There is a huge colony of them living on the East Coast of the North Island, by Napier, at Cape Kidnappers. They are fabulous to watch when in full diving, feeding flight. They drop, beak first from the sky, at an astonishing speed to plunge into the sea beneath. We also saw black shags, which pose splendidly on the rocky outcrops, wings outstretched, and when fishing almost have a snake like quality with their long, thin necks. Of the 12 recognised species breeding in the New Zealand region, no fewer than 8 are endemic.
On this first stretch of the walk there is always plenty to attract the inner beach comber, with interesting shells, driftwood strewn around (sometimes brought together by a fisherman into a shelter, or balanced across rocks for a make-shift balancing beam – the latter was found on our walk, much to the delight of the girls).
Rounding the point to Breaker Bay itself we were greeted to the wide, sweeping expanse of fine pebbled beach, with rocks dotted along the shore like armchairs. Charli found a suitable ‘armchair’ and called it her nature chair. She sat contentedly, munching an apple, counting the waves. The beach is really therapeutic to walk on, encasing each footstep with its soft, rounded pebbles. In summer they feel warm to the touch and are wonderful to sink into. One word of warning for the easily shocked – this far end of the beach is known as a favoured spot for nudists (when a southerly isn’t blowing), but they generally keep away from the main path of the walkers and tuck in discretely by the cliff face.
Half way along the beach, before reaching the archway of rock, jutting out from the main cliff face, there is a walkway which ascends gently up the headland to the cliff-top. The pathway provides a beautiful vantage point from which to survey the harbour. Charli and Sophie ran up ahead of us, leaving us to make our steady climb, enjoying each others company, hands linked with thoughts of our little bundle that we’ll be lovingly carrying next year on future walks.
The descent is steep in parts, but our little mountain goats weren’t perturbed. It wasn’t long before we’d walked full circle.
And if you were wondering about the face-paint on the photos below, it was done at the wonderful Storylines Family Day, which we’d attended in the morning. The girls were delighted to hear Joy Cowley, one of our favourite New Zealand children’s authors, read her latest book.
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