After lunch, we went to the beach, a narrow cove called Te Oka on the south side of Banks Peninsula. The sand is dark-coloured from the volcanic rock of the peninsula, but is mingled with lighter streaks which are probably ground-up shells, although the beach was littered with very few.
The hills which overlook Te Oka are covered in very dry, yellow tussock grass, which forms a complementary contrast with the blue of the sea and the sky. Close to the land, the sea was that lighter green-blue and then further out, a deeper blue which, from our perspective, formed a narrow strip setting a border between the realms of Zeus and Poseidon.
There are rocks at the base of the ridges which thrust out into the sea, and at the far end on the west side is a phallic-looking rock which stands apart from the small cliff. I wouldn’t be surprised if Te Oka means “The Knob” (in its more colloquial sense).
The locals were a small flock of seagulls, a paradise duck, and three oyster catchers. The last of these were rather bullying, chasing away the seagulls and harassing the paradise duck as they made their way self-importantly up the beach, acting like disdainful Puritans. The seagulls were more interested in the stream flowing down from the valley in which they would sit for a time and then start washing themselves before finishing their baths with a drink.
The tide was turning while we were there, and I took the opportunity to go paddling, which I’ve done so rarely over the past twenty to twenty-five years that the number of times doesn’t exhaust the fingers on one hand.
Behind us, we heard something coming down the beach, namely a piece of dried kelp in the shape of a small walking stick being blown along by the wind, whose passage was leaving a trail in the sand. It eventually got blown into the sea which carried the stick further out as the tide ebbed and flowed. The kelp would bob over the approaching waves, which would bring it back a little way, but it seemed to be taking two steps forward and only one step back. I assume that the water will deposit it back up the beach, and the wind will then blow it back down again tomorrow.