Friends of mine have a classic Kiwi fibrolite bach from the fifties overlooking the Awakino River mouth. This bach is a suntrap and the perfect spot to stay while I’m on a shooting recce of the Three Sisters, Mokau and Awakino. When I say shooting I do mean with a camera as opposed to a gun. I was inspired after my last visit to Ralph’s bach, about 10 years ago, when I captured a series of moody photographs at dusk of Mt Taranaki hovering over the ocean like a mirage.

Walking into the retro bach it was like stepping back in time. The black and white tiled kitchen had a Formica dining table with chrome chairs where you could sit overlooking the ocean. Shell rings were strung in the window and a Mom and Pop set of lounge chairs with rolled wooden arms and crochet covers were in the living room. Wine glasses were in the china cabinet while the two bedrooms each had room for a bed and not much more – but what else would you need?

The monoliths reminded me of Stonehenge

In the morning we walked out to the mouth of the Awakino River. Several quad bikes were on the beach – fishermen travel the long, black-sand beach from Mokau campground to the river mouth to fish. By the cliffs a man was hammering rocks, looking for fossils. A strong current swept along the beach and the shore break was not inviting for a swim.

I had chosen a fine stretch of weather, with low tide in the afternoon so I could walk out and photograph the Three Sisters at Tongaporutu – they can only be reached at low tide as the access is via the banks of the Tongaporutu River. At high tide the access is covered by surging water as waves roll up the river.

The Awakino River snakes down to the Tasman Sea


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