Friday, April 2, 2010

The Needles - Wards Beach

I can't believe I've now been in Blenheim for 6 weeks and in my new house for five! Time has just whizzed by. I've been busy moving in, and have been getting lots of visitors with no time to work on all my photos, or to update my blog so this is about to be rectified!

The first weekend I was down in Blenheim, the Marlborough Camera Club had a field trip to Wards Beach and the Needles. I decided to go, even though my ankle was still pretty sore. I mean - how hard can it be to walk down a beach right? Ha! If only I had known!

We all met at the train station at 8.30am. I left my car there and went with others. It was a stunning day, going to be hot, with not a cloud in the sky. The trip to the beach took about an hour, down highway 1 to Ward.

The first thing we had to do was cross a small river, and round the point, and after that just walk along the beach until we reached our destination - the Needles. The Needles are limestone rock formations - you can see them in the distance in the following image..

Note how blue the sky was - all these images are straight out of the camera, no enhancements or change of colour - they are as is, untouched.

We were actually lucky this day, as Wards Beach is quite exposed and it can blow a howling gale and be very unpleasant, but it was simply a sea breeze and hot sun. The distance wasn't too great to the Needles - about 5km, but it was really tough. The tide was in and the beach is all shingle, so every time you took a footstep, you would sink down - definitely not good for my ankle! The best way to deal with it was just to put one foot in front of the other and keep going!!

As you can see I had lagged behind quite a way about half way down, as my ankle was so sore. Then I noticed a track along the farm alongside the beach. Several of us climbed up and through the fence and onto that road and walked along there - much easier than the shingle as it was something solid under our feet. You can see the fence line on the image below..

Not only was it better to walk on, it afforded us slightly better views. However, in the shelter of the hills, it was much hotter too.

After a while, the track veered inland, so we had to go back down to the beach again. Each step took us closer to our destination...

And closer...

I kept looking back also to make sure the place we started from was getting smaller!!

Just a bit further - I started to believe at this point I was going to survive and make it to the destination. But Wait! See that road on the cliff. First I had to get up there! I was a bit embarrassed to tell anyone I had no balance and needed help seeing it was my first day. So I just let my pride rule me that day and decided to just go for it. I made it up with great difficulty, but I did have an image of my ENT Surgeon shaking his head in despair at the time!!!

I mentioned before we were walking on a shingle beach. Take a look at the stones in closer detail. The were a myriad of colours, but in particular there were lots of pure white, very smooth rounded stones. I filled up my pocket with some, but was careful not to take too many as I didn't want to be weighted down. I will definitely be going back sometime with a bucket!

Another quick look back - to find I'm not the last one after all!! Not that there's any shame of coming last!

And finally - at our destination and the first of the 'Needles'. Very large pointy limestone rocks. They were quite something. Huge too.

To give you an idea of just how big they are, the following image has a few people in it for a point of reference...

Round the corner to find another beach that went for miles, all the way to the Kaikoura coast. Simply stunning.

More limestone rock formations...

Does anyone else but me see the similarity between this last image and the next?

Makes me wonder if the seals come here to worship themselves! Did they carve them out as likeness of themselves millions of years ago? Were they once intelligent creatures from out of space? (This is my best Chariots of the Gods imitation sorry!!)

Yes - there was a seal colony down here as well. They obviously liked lying in the same place each time, as certain parts of the limestone rocks were a dirty brown colour. There was a 'smell' around those areas as well, so you could tell that's where they lay!

These are the New Zealand Fur Seals. They are the most common seals found in New Zealand waters. They are excellent swimmers and weaned pups will turn up almost anywhere around New Zealand. A fur seal pup tagged on the west coast of South Island has even been recorded in Australia. On land they sometimes become disoriented and have been found in unusual places such as back-yards, drains and streets.

I was using my telephoto lens, but I was also quite close to them. When photographing seals, you have to remember they are a wild animal and will attack. Seal bites are quite common among tourists that get too close. I always make sure I'm never between a seal and the water.

Having said that, they would warn me politely if I got too close by way of a hiss and a bark. I would always take heed and step back. After I got the photo of course!

This one was just a yawn...

But this one was definitely a warning!

I did what I was told and moved back up the beach...

Turned out that I was just standing on his bed of kelp, and he just wanted to be where I had been! But I wasn't going to argue!

It was time to make tracks back down to the cars. But before I went, I took another few photos of the limestone rocks. Is it just me, or this is another seal rock?

Another quick look down the coast to Kaikoura, and of course I couldn't resist taking just one more photo! The landscape was just stunning.

Rather than try to climb down the cliff and break my neck in doing so, I walked round the road, which took me up into the hills for a bit, before coming to a road that would take me back to the beach. It was worth it as the views were stunning...

I have to walk all the way back to that far point. Fortunately the tide was out on the way back, and I was able to walk on firmer sand - made it much easier, but my ankle was still extremely painful.

Too late!

I didn't see the no trespassing sign until we had got back down to the beach from the hill road. There probably should be one at the start of the road after the Needles themselves. I promise I shut gates, didn't do any damage, and didn't litter. (Just in case the farmer is reading this!)

All in all - a wonderful field trip, great people and a perfect day. I'm pleased to say my ankle, 5 weeks later, is just starting to recover!


Morgan said...

Wow! What stunning scenes. I am amazed by the sky. I can't believe it is that blue. Looking forward to visiting and finding out for myself.

You have quite a thing with seals don't you! I wonder what Kass would make of them! I think those seals need to be educated with Dawkin's God Delusion and stop worshipping those silly rocks!

Anonymous said...

I absolutely agree. It is rather arrogant to worship likeness of oneself!


Robyn, you do a terrific job with narrative photography! I very much enjoyed this series.

Anonymous said...

Henry - high praise indeed thank you. I enjoy doing narrative photography. Watch this space, I have a couple more landscapey ones, and then one on WWI and WWII planes :)

kim said...

Beautiful beach! And loved the seal shots!

Coffee Please!?! said...

hi - i love your blog - i found you by hitting "next" from my blog! i have a hearing loss too - so it's ironic that you were my "next" when I never mentioned that on my blog. :-) your pictures are absolutely fabulous! i'm going to be following your blog from here on out. Have a great weekend!

LifeWrecked said...

Beautiful job as always Robyn! And with a bad ankle too (of course!) :) Also love the narrative - you're as good a writer as you are a photographer - and that's fantastic!

Anonymous said...

Thanks Paul, Glad you enjoyed :)

Anonymous said...

This might be really great, but unfortunately none of the photos can be seen.