Thursday 6 August 2009


Our city beaches are in the news: dead pilchards by the thousand, dead penguins, dead dolphins, even dead dogs. It's a mystery and a worry. Thank goodness it's not summer - then it would strike to the very heart of daily life here, if the beaches were out of bounds (I have faith it will be sorted by then).

It's one of the main glories of Auckland, that we have beautiful sandy beaches edging all the suburbs - usually pretty sheltered and safe (the surfies have to go over to the west coast for the wild black-sand beaches) and always a balm for the eyes and soul. Only a balm, etc, at the moment - but that's still worth a lot.

Yesterday I was in Takapuna, where I love to go shopping simply because I can be buzzing along the road between boutiques and cafes and there, at the end of the street, is the sea, blue and shining, with always a yacht gliding past. It's lovely.

Takapuna Beach is long and broad at low tide, and Charles Kingsford Smith landed his plane the Southern Cross there in 1932, a stop on his tour around the country celebrating, amongst other notable firsts, his pioneer flight across the Tasman. When he got down to Dunedin, my father, a boy, was thrilled to win a lucky draw for a joy-flight with him. It gave him the flying bug and led him to leave the farm when he was older to go to Christchurch to take lessons. Then the war began, he joined the Air Force, went to Britain and met my mother, crash-landed on a bombing mission over northern France, was helped by the Resistance, captured by the Germans and ended up in Stalag Luft III in Poland, the Great Escape prison camp, where he spent the next 4 years.

He disliked talking about it, and there's a lot we don't know, but I would like one day to make a sort of pilgrimage to Sagan. My nephew has been, and says the pine forest has grown back over the site of the camp, but still...

Most people look down The Strand and just see a beach.


the queen said...

Dead PENGUINS? That is beyond sad. Perhaps a delayed reaction from the earthquake? Hidden tsunami?

TravelSkite said...

Now, really, don't you think that penguins would be able to surf a tsunami? But yes, sad as. Possibly algal bloom or something similar.

TravelSkite said...

I did get to Zagan and visit the remains of the prison camp. You can read about it by scrolling up to the search box and entering Stalag Luft III.


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