View south from Maunganui Bluff, near Dargaville, Northland
Maunganui Bluff overlooks the Northland coast not far north of Dargaville, rising almost sheer from the sea to a height of nearly 460 metres. Contrasting sharply with the otherwise sandy, dune-backed beaches in this area, the bluff is made up of thick layers of basalt, sloping backward from the high coastal cliffs to rolling lowlands just a few kilometres inland.
The basalt that makes up Maunganui Bluff owes its origin to the existence of an old, large shield volcano that was once centred several kilometres offshore from the present-day coast. Coastal erosion has destroyed much of this old volcano, leaving just the northeastern slopes that rise steadily southwestward to end abruptly at Maunganui Bluff itself.
Given its exposed position, the bluff offers an outstanding vantage point for sweeping views both north and south along the coast. In this photograph the sense of altitude was enhanced by a scattering of clouds, their blotchy shadows suggesting that my clifftop vantage point was closer to the cloud base than the sea far below.