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On the Coromandel – Hot Water Beach

Hot Water Beach - Return to the Sea

Hot Water Beach – Return to the Sea

Marion and Kerry took me to Hot Water Beach on my first New Zealand trip, in 1997. My memories of that day have remained foremost in my thoughts and I longed for a return visit.  So, when Kerry and his mates set off for afternoon fishing, Marion and I headed south a few miles.  So named because of the hot springs located right on the beach, each day of the year, humans are drawn to this place.

Hot Water Beach

Hot Water Beach

They arrive in synchronicity with the departing tide, and they begin digging.  Digging what will become the soak pools.  There, they relax in the soothing waters until the sea returns to reclaim it’s rightful place as master of the coast.  If you stand on the beach sand and squish your feet down into the sand, depending on where you stand, it can be so hot that you must move on.  When the tide returns, it is then that the humans begin their frantic, and sometimes hilarious quest to defeat the inevitable, building their sand walls higher and higher in the hopes of soaking a little longer.  Inevitably, with each incoming tide, humans lose the battle.  I think it’s an extraordinary place, and . . .

New Zealand Dotterel

New Zealand Dotterel

so do the birds.  Above is a New Zealand Dotterel who calls Hot Water Beach home. The New Zealand dotterel/tūturiwhatu is an endangered species found only in this country. It was once widespread and common but there are only about 1700 birds left. This serious decline in numbers is due to a combination of habitat loss, predation by introduced mammals and disturbance during breeding.

Protect the Nesting Birds

Protect the Nesting Birds

The Department of Conservation, fences off nesting areas and their observers protect them for the dotterel and other endangered species like the Fairy Tern. Pied Oystercatchers, the most abundant wading birds in New Zealand, also benefit from the protected beaches.

Pied Oystercatcher

Pied Oystercatcher

We found a couple of these little fellows too, foraging on the beach for macro-invertebrates hiding beneath the sand.  There’s room for everyone on New Zealand’s beaches.

 

 

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