Saturday, January 23, 2016


Piwakawaka at Tauperikaka, New Zealand (June 1, 2008)

After Bruce Bay, Route 6 turns again towards the interior, until it goes back to the coast in proximity of Ship Creek. The real name of the creek is the Māori Tauperikaka, but since 1871 it has acquired its anglo-saxon name due to an unusual story. In that year, a section of a ship wreck of uncommon built was found in a creek. More pieces were later found, and it was determined they were part of the bow of the “Schonberg”, a sailing ship of the Black Ball line. Additional pieces where found in subsequent years, until 1920. The rest of the hull was finally discovered by divers in 1973, off Adelaide in Australia.

The Schomberg was wrecked at the end of its maiden voyage from Liverpool to Melbourne, the day after Christmas, 1855. As another famous ship that didn’t complete its maiden voyage, the Schomberg was hailed as the fastest and finest ship in the world, and its captain James ‘Bully’ Forbes boasted that he would set a new record traversing from England to Australia in 60 days. After 80 days the cruise had still to reach the intended destination, and it is rumored that the disgruntled captain purposely wrecked the ship on the infamous Shipwreck Coast off Victoria (the 300 passengers walking ashore, unharmed). The surprising part of this story, is that the fragments of this ship managed to travel over 2,000 km across the Tasman sea, to end up on a desolated Westland beach.

We didn’t stay long at the beach, which is just on the side of Route 6, but we did climb the observation tower at the end of the parking lot. The tower offers a nice view of the beach. On the top we weren’t alone, as we were joined by the little bird in the photo above. This little yellow bird wasn’t at all afraid of humans: it was actually flying back and forth, sometimes so close that I though it would collide with my camera (the photo is in a rare moment in which the bird was calmly sitting on the tower window rail). Our friend Kendra later said that it is typical for that bird to dance that way around people, to eat the (numerous) mosquitos that clouds around people. She also told us the name of the bird: fantail, or piwakawaka in Māori.

Tauperikaka, New Zealand (June 1, 2008)

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