I never thought I’d look out at the ocean and think, “Wow, this is the Tasman Sea.” But here we are, looking at the Tasman Sea, the part of the Pacific Ocean between New Zealand, Australia, and Tasmania. This part of the ocean, along with Tasmania and other landmarks, are named after the Dutch explorer Abel Tasman who sailed by Tasmania, New Zealand, and Fiji in 1642-43, the first European to do so. Tasman saw the coast but he barely got off his ship due to rough seas.
Our week began with some of this same weather. The water is very shallow along Piha beach, and waves crash over and over as they come in. There is a constant roar of the surf, not the rhythmic boom-pause-boom-pause I am more accustomed to hearing.
On Sunday, we took a long walk down the beach. The sun was out, and there were people everywhere despite a stiff wind. We passed surf life-saving crews practicing zooming up and down the shore between waves, snatching pretend victims from the sea. There were nearly 100 kids in surf school, running in and out of the water, flopping in the shallows, and following their leader. By the time we got home I was chilled to the bone despite my sweatshirt, yet all those other people were frolicking in the water.
Less than a week in New Zealand and I am already eating the words of earlier pronouncements. Piha Beach, our home for two weeks, is a popular vacation spot, with RVs rolling in and out of the campground, weekend visitors, residents, everyone. There is a Surf Lifesaving Club and a surf club. There are zones for dogs to roam, dogs on leashes, and dogs prohibited. With all these people, there is almost no trash.
I haven’t seen or heard about beach clean-up. Maybe New Zealand is just far enough from the rest of the world that most of the plastic doesn’t get here. So far, I’m pretty impressed. The beach is long and sandy and there is only a small amount of litter visible as you stroll along. How did that happen?
The coast is dramatic and beautiful. Our good luck was sealed by Jonathan’s finding a piece of beach glass on our first walk. It was late in the day and the sun turned everything silvery. The sun sets much later than we are used to, around 8 pm, and it’s getting later every day. We will visit as many beaches in this area as we can, but we will only scratch the surface of the many rocky headlands and coves.