Happy Easter! It was time to do the hike we’d been planning for a while, Cape Kidnappers. Don’t let the name put you off – we had no plans to get kidnapped, or do any kidnapping. The name, like seemingly everything in NZ, comes from good ol’ Captain Cook. In 1769, the Endeavor was anchored along the cape (which I’m sure already had a name at the time, but you know how explorers are), when local Māori attempted to kidnap a servant of one of Cook’s crew-members. That was a step too far for Cook, and he promptly killed two Māori, wounding a third, before opening fire with the Endeavor’s cannon, because clearly this man didn’t have an off switch. The Tahitian servant survived unscathed, but needless to say, he was still a servant. Not a lot of happy endings when it comes to colonial exploration.
ANYWAY, fast forward 249 years, and fearless explorers Kelsey Fly and Andrew Pearson were set to tackle Cape Kidnappers, with not a cannon in sight. We figured Easter Sunday would be a good day to do the 19 km (12 mile) return trek, since not much would be open around town. Mother Nature is always open, thankfully. Gotta love her.
Here’s a map of the path along the beach which we followed there and back.
You have to start the walk at least three hours after high tide in order to guarantee enough beach. We hit it a tiny bit early, but this meant we were the first ones of the day setting out on the hike. No pesky humanoids to ruin my photos! Except this guy…
The day was already hot around 9 am, so we knew it’d be a scorcher. Luckily we had plenty of sunblock and water.
Not long after setting off, we found ourselves beneath majestic looming cliffs. The layers of rock were incredible.
The rocky shoreline stretched out into the distance, seemingly without end.
You can see why this walk would be a bit tricky at high tide.
Looking back, some people popped into view, which only made us more determined to get there first. Nothing could stop me from snapping photos, though.
The geology seemed to change around every turn. The eroding sandstone made it easy to see how places like the Putangirua Pinnacles (Paths of the Dead) formed over time.
Even underfoot there were surprises. Check out this green stone.
Have you had enough of cliffs yet? I hope not. According to the Department of Conservation, “the towering cliffs are made up of sandstone, conglomerate, mudstone, river gravel, pumice and silt, as well as glimpses of petrified wood and lignite.” Andy even managed to spot some cool fossils, but we didn’t want to spend too much time poking around underneath the constantly crumbling cliffs.
My camera’s wide-angle lens gives you a better idea of the staggering size of these rocky behemoths.
Having a partner for scale is always handy. In fact, you could say he put the “Andy” in handy. Yes, I’ll see myself out.
The rocks scattering the beach were a constant reminder of how sensitive the cliffs are to the elements, gradually receding with time, shedding chunks as they do.
Some of those chunks make for perfect posing platforms, though. Thanks, nature!
Now I was reminded of Cathedral Cove, with huge eroded rock formations sticking out of the water.
I love the lines of layered rock beneath the sand, like stony waves frozen in time.
Right when we reached a point where we ran out of beach and the waves lapped at the cliffs, we spotted some bits of fluff on a rocky outcropping. Turns out this was Black Reef gannet colony, the smaller of the colonies found on the cape. Although it was late in the breeding season, there happened to be one adorable juvenile.
While contemplating our next move, I had plenty of time to grab my telephoto lens and get some closer shots of the chick preening.
Cutest bit of fluff ever! Don’t tell Higgs.
We decided we couldn’t be bothered to wait for the tide to go out, so we pulled off our boots, rolled up our pants and went for it. Luckily, the water wasn’t too deep and there was plenty of beach around the next corner.
The white cliffs at the tip of the cape were revealed to us in all their glory.
Perfect chance for some self-timer shots!
And of course, I saved the best for last – the failed jumping shot where my right leg appears to be either broken or made of rubber.
Can’t beat it.
Stay tuned for part two – sunshine, stunning views and more gannets.