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Coastal cliffs at sunset, Tongaporutu, North Taranaki

Most of Taranaki’s beaches are backed by high cliffs, testimony to rapid coastal erosion that has been going on for many thousands of years and which continues today. Taranaki’s bedrock is not particularly strong, being sandstone and mudstone overlain by volcanic deposits, so the exposed cliff faces are easily eroded and often highly unstable. I have spent several years exploring the North Taranaki coast near Tongaporutu, and have been impressed by the rate at which the cliff faces here are changing — not to mention the several occasions on which I have witnessed debris falling onto the beaches from high above, which has somewhat tempered my interest in walking under the many caves and overhangs that the sea has carved into the cliffs.

This photograph was taken from a clifftop near the Whitecliffs Walkway, looking north from near Whitecliffs back towards the Tongaporutu River mouth. The beach in the foreground can be reached only by way of a sturdy nylon strap tied to a small tree at the top of the cliff, allowing hand-over-hand access down the near-vertical face to the black sand below. Scrambling down here laden with camera gear has never been easy, but the effort is always richly rewarded for the photographic potential that this part of the coast has to offer.


Sunrise at Castlepoint

View south from Maunganui Bluff

Pingao on dunes, 90 Mile Beach

Evening twilight over Rangitoto Island

Coastal cliffs, Tongaporutu

Piha, West Auckland

Pingao, Mangawhai Heads, Northland

Castlepoint Lighthouse at sunrise

Coastal cliffs at sunset, Tongaporutu

Australasian gannets, Muriwai

Sand dune, 90 Mile Beach

Twilight over Mt Taranaki

Pools at low tide, Oakura Beach

Waves on rocks, 90 Mile Beach

Australasian gannet colony, Muriwai

Wreck of the "Gairloch", Oakura Beach

Sunrise over Rangitoto Island