Waking up to the sight of the snow capped peaks of the Tarararuas could not be more exhilerating but trips to New Zealand’s rugged coastline are met with equal excitement. The destination today is Wairarapa’s east coast. The main destinations for tourists are the beaches at Riversdale and Castlepoint but a few miles south can be found Flat Point - home to two huge farming stations plus a few select holiday homes (or batches as they are referred to in NZ).
The last twenty or so kilometres of the drive has to be undertaken on gravel roads so the going is slow but most enjoyable for a “pom” taking in the scenery. Knowing the area was so remote I was quite prepared for the fact that on this day it might be necessary for me duck behind a bush or sand dune but New Zealand never fails to surprise me. As we descended the winding road and spotted the turquoise water of the Pacific in the bay
another sign also came into view:
I looked around but all I could see was green fields filled with sheep. Was this a hoax designed to raise hopes rather than provide relief? I looked again – and it was then that I noticed a small structure built of wicker fencing. The only thing which distinguished this from a farm shack was the tell tale chimney-like vent rising from one side.
I ventured up and opened the door – hooray, it was indeed a Long Drop. I whooped for joy. I have to say that this was the very best Long Drop I have ever come across. The light wicker walls provided a constant stream of air through the little room and there was absolutely no nasty smell or usual buzzing of flies.
Admittedly this area is so remote that I do not suppose it is heavily used but all the same I was very impressed. On the way out I took another look at the roadside sign and noticed another showing that this was also the Tsunami Evacuation Route. No doubt it is for that reason that this airy little hideaway has been provided.
The public road ends at the edge of the sand dunes and a noticeboard maps out the route to the beach. A very narrow footpath wends its way through high flax before ending at the side of river.
It is then a few metres down the banks of the estuary to reach the deserted beach. The wind was blowing a gale and sand stung skin as it whistled by, but boy oh boy what a heavenly place this was. A sheltered spot was found on the rocks in the lee of the dunes – perfect for relaxing and watching the mighty surf cascading onto the beach.
Back in 1938 a surveyor reported that a strange marine monster, possibly the fabled sea-serpent, had been stranded near Flat Point. This aroused the interest of scientists who lost no time in visiting the scene. What they found turned out to be the carcase of a whale buried deeply in the sand. At first glance it had to be admitted that the sea-serpent theory appeared justified. In one place a hump of blubber projected from the sand whilst 55ft down the beach a second section resembling a tapered tail could be seen.
The interesting shapes that I spotted were of driftwood and seaweed.
And the only other sign of life were a couple of seagulls