10 February 2015

Mangakuri Beach

We thought we'd done all the tripping around the island we were going to do for this summer, but an opportunity came up to spend the recent long weekend at a beach in the Hawke's Bay. My husband and I have only been over to the eastern coast of the North Island a handful of times and the girls have never been so we grabbed the chance to stay in a bach overlooking Mangakuri Beach.

As I understand it, Mangakuri means black dog. I think the beach name sounds nicer in Māori. For those who have never been there before, it is roughly a five hour car-ride from Wellington allowing for carsickness and hungry children. The time passes quickly though when enjoying the lovely view of the passing countryside is no longer sufficient and I get to answer pertinent questions like "Will there be a washing line?" and "Will I be chased by a bear?".

Turning off State Highway 2 at Waipawa, we drove through the beautiful, but dry Hawke's Bay countryside with rolling hills and sheep farms as far as the eye could see. The road followed the very scenic Tukituki River for a while and eventually we wound our way down some gravel roads to the small beachside community of Mangakuri. A sprinkling of baches are separated from the beach by a narrow lane and some coastal grass. It is only 40 minutes from the nearest town for supplies, but it really felt in the middle of nowhere. The isolation of this beach is all part of the appeal.

We were so lucky to be lent this bach for three nights (thank you A and M). It was in fairly original condition and full of curios and charm. Naturally, I had to take some photos of it.

When we arrived, it was getting close to dark and so cold, much colder than I was expecting (and I had packed for summer weather). The next day was not much better with a southerly blowing and the threat of rain, and I spent a good part of the day huddled in the bach with a blanket pulled around me. The brazier on the verandah was a very welcome friend and we used it to cook our evening meals. The girls didn't really feel the cold as much as I did during the day but each night, I found one or two of them had crept into our bed with their stone-cold feet pressed up against me.
There was no tv, no cellphone reception and nothing to fill our days except to explore the surrounding area, play darts, read and play games on the laptop, thanks Wifi. Laying in bed on our first night there, I listened to the loud, unfamiliar sound of the waves hitting the beach and realized it had been years since I had heard that simple, rhythmic sound without the chatter of people, cars or even wind to dull its noise.
The southerly wind finally died down enough on our final day for everyone to stay on the beach for longer than a few minutes. We even broke out the cricket set for a bit until the lure of the water became too much for the girls.

I have always had a healthy respect for the sea ever since I got caught in a rip as a teenager, so I don't go into the surf past my knees anymore, unless I am feeling really brave from seeing other people swimming out further than me. I try not to foist my own fear onto my children, but when I see them going in too far for my liking I call them back, much to their great annoyance. I always wonder what I would do if they all got swept out and I was forced to make a decision on who I'd concentrate my energies on to try and rescue. It's a horrible thought, so on my watch, the girls are only allowed to go into the surf up to their knees too. Interestingly, I read this article before we travelled away and only just realized the incident happened at this very beach.
The beach itself is rockier than I was expecting, although there is meant to be a safe swimming spot with no rocks further north from where our bach was located but we were happy just to explore around our little patch. The soft golden sand is always a nice departure from the black ironsand beaches we are used to.

Living where we do in Wellington surrounded by hills, seeing the sun and moon rise over the ocean is pretty unforgettable. The light from the morning sun on our final day at the beach cast everything in this beautiful golden hue, I was so glad I got up early to take these photos. I was the only one on the beach that morning apart from a few seagulls and it was so warm even at 6.30am. This is the view to the north, and the second photo looks south towards Pourerere.

We may never get another chance to return to this particular beach, but I hope that the girls will always remember that this was the place where they first played in the Pacific.


  1. When I was growing up I was the opposite - I never got to go to the West Coast until I was quite old! In fact I may have well been an adult before I played in the Tasman Sea!

  2. This looks so idyllic, like you have stepped back in time. So great that your girls get to experience places like this - I'm a teensy bit envious, I think I could spend a long weekend there too :) xx

  3. What a beautiful place - the spot and the house where you stayed!! The picture of your daughters looking out to sea is wonderful and really seems to sum it all up to me! So glad for you that you had such a great time! Oh, and I agree, the place names sound wonderful in Maori! xx

  4. Oh what a fabulous place to stay, the perfect quirky bach and gorgeous beach,

  5. That place looks like a truly special place to visit! I can hear those waves crashing at night with the surrounding silence....its been a while since I've heard that too! Ahhh but that morning glow I know well as do I, the red skies at night.....it is glorious and you have captured it well :)

  6. I love how the Bach is in almost original condition, like baches should be! Great Pics... may have to put the Black Dog Beach on our to do list!

  7. Lovely photography!