27 February 2015

A Date with The Three Sisters

On the drive from Hamilton to New Plymouth during our Christmas holiday, I'd been hoping to make a stop at Tongaporutu to walk out to The Three Sisters - a renowned rock formation on the coastline that is only accessible at low tide. However, the tides weren't quite right when we drove past on this occasion, and as we only had two nights planned in New Plymouth we felt we had better maximise the time with my gran - so we left it for another time.

So fast forward a mere six weeks and we found ourselves again heading up to Taranaki for the long Waitangi weekend. This time the planets were more likely to align as I'd done my research and discovered that low tide was at 7pm and with sunset at 8.30pm, the chances were indeed high for good light assuming we were also lucky enough to get good weather on the day.

Lucky for us it was a very good day - so after an early dinner we headed up the coast an hour for our date with The Three Sisters.

From the carpark it's about a 10 minute walk along the exposed riverbank so it's is almost easier just to ditch your footwear (especially if you're in jandals) for this bit as the sandstone is quite slippery.

The Three Sisters is a fascinating stretch of NZ's coastline, not unlike Wharariki Beach that we visited back in October. But one gets the impression that unlike Wharariki, the coastline here is changing even more rapidly.

The Three Sisters rock pools

Prior to our adventure here, I did a bit of reading up about Tongaporutu and found out that the third Sister (you can see there are only two above) was actually destroyed in an epic storm back in the spring of 2003 - I found this fascinating article about a local photographer Pat Greenfield who has been documenting this coastline for the past 11 years and who has witnessed the incredible changes in the landscape over this time.

The Three Sisters boulders

A third Sister has since broken away from the main cliff again but is not as far out to sea as the other two.

We were fortunate that on the evening we went the skies were so clear that Mt Taranaki was even visible on the horizon if you look closely.

Two of the three Sisters Tongaporutu

This rock below is about as close looking to a mammoth as you could ever get, don't you think?!

Mammoth Rock Mount Taranaki

My best option for taking photos was to stand in the wet sand to capture the reflections of the rocks and cliffs - I just had to keep one eye on the surf as an odd rogue wave seemed to come in every ten minutes or so that had far more reach than the rest and threatened to take me out as well as the camera and tripod too.

Tongaporutu reflections

Black and wihte The Three Sisters Tongaporutu

The Three Sisters reflections


You can clearly see where the third Sister is in this shot I captured of the boys.

The Three sisters sunset sunflare bokeh

As the sun began to sink lower in the sky I took the opportunity to try and catch a sunflare on the corner of the biggest Sister. And was pretty pleased with the results!

Sunflare at sunset Three Sisters

The Three Sisters sunset boulders

The clear skies meant the eventual sunset wasn't filled with amazing red and pink hues, instead some rather lovely golden and salmon hues which stretched across the sky as the sun sank below the horizon.

Sunset reflections Three Sisters

golden sunset reflections Three Sisters

It was a truly incredible night to have been here and I'm hopeful that the planets will align again for the timing for me to one day soon return and capture her beauty again.

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