The sea is close to the hearts of most (if not all) New Zealanders. Walk in to any work space or home in New Zealand, and it’s almost certain that you’ll see a picture of a treasured beach holiday on a desk or wall. I don’t think there isn’t a Kiwi alive who doesn’t have fond memories of days at the beach.
The great annual summer shutdown is about to occur, when most businesses shut for two weeks over Christmas and New Year. Thousands of (if not a million!) Kiwis are preparing to leave their city homes and descend on the beaches all over the country, for the simple bach* life and two weeks of sun and sea.
*the bach is the traditional Kiwi beach holiday cottage – usually a rudimentary affair with very basic bedrooms, kitchen, bathroom and living room, they are meant for sleeping in, and not much else – all other activity happens outside, where meals are cooked over the ‘barbie’ and eaten al fresco, and the day is spent “mucking around” on the beach, fishing, swimming, body surfing, digging holes and generally having fun.
This is a picture I took a few years back on one such summer holiday – the young boy is holding a handful of shellfish (pipi) he’d dug up from the sand. They’re delicious, and especially so when cooked straight away over a fire on the beach, and seasoned with a dash of lemon juice and Tabasco sauce! These ones were put back due to contamination concerns at the time.
I’d go so far as to say that the beach and the sea are a part of the Kiwi soul. Start to talk about limiting rights to access the beach, or catch sizes, and you get extremely passionate responses.
It’s a good thing too. If we continue to care, then hopefully it means that we will be mindful of looking after one of New Zealand’s greatest natural treasures.
I for one, especially love pottering around rock pools. The first time I went to Makara Beach after I moved to Wellington, I thought I had discovered marine paradise.
Here, the rock pools are sheltered enough from the ocean swell that myriad sea life exists. Standing on the rocks, you gaze into the crystal clear water at this:
Let’s now come closer and see more…
The above is Neptune’s necklace.
I’d love to know what this one is called. I haven’t been able to find out yet.
Sea lettuce (above) is apparently delicious, and I must try some soon.
The unspoilt beauty makes my heart sing and brings a sense of peace and happiness. Not to mention that knitting inspiration abounds!
We spend hours crouched over the pools, spotting the amazing forms of sea life…
Can you see the fish in this picture? There are two of them.
Notice the pink paint-like spots on the rocks? That’s a crust-forming coralline algae, known as pink paint! This particular seaweed actually releases chemicals that encourage pāua (abalone) larvae to settle and mature.
Snail and limpets crawl slowly over the rocks, grazing on algae.
Just a bit further out at the edges of the rocks, abalone (pāua) and crayfish hide. On the weekends, the sea is alive with divers, who especially love to come and harvest them and the butterfish that flit in the kelp. I only hope they don’t take too much. Some times you see evidence of less than legal behaviour…
This is an undersized pāua that unfortunately got taken before it was of legal size. The divers remove them from their shells on the beach and throw the shells back into the sea in order to more easily hide their greed.
I feel especially protective of what we have in New Zealand, especially after living overseas and going to the beach, full of expectation at finding something like the above, only to see… nothing. Just rocks, and sea. It was horrifying.
Ah yes, the sea is indeed full of bountiful treasures and wonderful experiences. Let us treasure what we have here, and never take it for granted.