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Home arrow Events arrow Ngunguru estuary water trail - geology kayak tour no. 1
Ngunguru estuary water trail - geology kayak tour no. 1 PDF Print
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Written by Darlene Buckley   
Friday, 18 November 2011
Geology Kayak Tour, Nov 2011, Red Rock Beach

A small group of intrepid explorers joined Chris and Darlene Buckley for the first-ever geology field trip kayak tour of the Lower Ngunguru Estuary on Sunday 6 November. In a briefing on the beach in front of the Ngunguru Motor Lodge we talked about the geologic setting of Ngunguru and things we would look at more closely. Our colourful band of kayaks paddled down-river past the school, crossing shallow tidal platforms to make a landing at Red Rock Beach. Most of the small bays along the mainland side of the lower estuary are enclosed by the hard rocks of the Waipapa terrane. Horizontal rock platforms have been formed by tidal action over 1000s of years. Beach sands sometimes cover the rock platforms for a few years and then are stripped away in big storms. Several people commented on changes on the beaches that they have noted over the past 10-15-20 years. Rocks of the Waipapa terrane began their journey 300 million years ago upwelling to the surface in the middle of the early Pacific Ocean basin. The rock units include black ocean-floor pillow basalts, bright red ribbon chert, and grey to dark green argillite. These are some of the oldest rocks in Northland and are found along the east coast from here to the Cavalli Islands.

Getting back onto the water from the beach was a bit of a challenge because of wind, swell and tide conditions. Good seamanship prevailed and we made the crossing over to the tip of the sandspit to take a closer look at active coastal processes. The end of the sandspit is a focus point for the sand-sea-wind systems that continuously remodel the sandspit. Large storms waves will move sand offshore, creating sandbars and changing the navigation channel. Storm winds build the dunes. Settled weather, with small swell/wave conditions, allows sand to move back onshore to build up the beach. In addition, storms with heavy rainfall will bring sand, gravel and mud down the river; some of which ends up trapped on the sandspit. The tip of the sandspit is a great place to visit to see an active sand system that is changing all the time. Oystercatchers, dotterels, and a flock of godwits watched warily as we were paddling back to our launch point.

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Last Updated ( Friday, 18 November 2011 )
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