Coastal cliffs in late afternoon, Tongaporutu, North Taranaki

The Tongaporutu coastline is a spectacular part of North Taranaki, a place where booming swells from the Tasman Sea meet towering sandstone cliffs that have been shaped by the sea into a multitude of shapes and forms over thousands of years. The sheer cliffs mean that many parts of the beach here are inaccessible, even at low tide, although locally-known tracks lead to a number of popular cliff-top fishing spots. The Whitecliffs Walkway is a popular scenic route for day-trippers, taking walkers from Tongaporutu south to Pukearuhe along a mixture of cliff-top, beach and bush tracks (although the beach section is accessible only at times of low tide).

The late afternoon light is superb along this stretch of coastline. Facing almost due west the Tongaporutu cliffs are perfectly aligned to the setting sun, catching its warm, slanting rays and taking on glowing hues of golden yellow, beige and brown; it is a blissful experience to walk one of these deserted, wild beaches on a warm summer’s evening and be surrounded by such grand rock faces.

This photograph was taken from just south of the Tongaporutu River mouth, where a small curved headland jutting out from the main cliff-line allows for an almost aerial perspective of the coastline towards the north. It certainly wasn’t the safest of places to get a photograph: the best view was to be had from a steep, bare slope directly above the cliff edge, and, as I secured my tripod into the loose crumbly earth and assembled the camera, I could feel the ground tremble every time a wave crashed into the cliff face below. The lighting conditions, however, were perfect, and kept me engrossed for long enough to get this photograph before my courage finally ran out.

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