Once again we trace our familiar route via Portobello and on to Allans Beach Road. This time, however, we hang a left once we reach Hoopers Inlet and follow the road all the way around to the Allans Beach car park. There was an unusual absence of birds, and we only passed one pukeko.
To put your mind at rest, no we did not walk through the surf and wade up the estuary! It was low tide, giving us plenty of room to wander without getting wet.
We stepped on to the beach, with the island of Wharekakahu on our left. This is an offshore reserve which is home to a colony of shags and 12 species of plant, some of which are rare.
We set off in the direction of Sandymount. The sand was the lovely pale colour that I adore, and the mist from the surf gave the distance a sort of hazy, ethereal quality.
We found several scattered paddle crab and horse mussel shells, as well as two black oystercatchers and a bevy of sea lions. Luckily they were not the big cross fellows from Sandfly Bay, and they only had one thing on their mind – sleep!
Sometimes sleeping sea lions unnerve me – I’m never quite sure whether they’re alive or dead. I don’t want to start oohing and aahing until I see some movement.
We reached the estuary, where the water was flowing quickly toward the sea. At that moment the sun came out briefly and turned the water a deep turquoise. A group of black swans was offended by our arrival and decided to find somewhere else to hang out.
I wandered up the estuary a short way, admiring the clear view all the way up to Harbour Cone. I watched a hawk for a little while (or perhaps I should call it a swamp harrier…it’s my favourite bird and yet I’ve just looked it up for the first time in my life). They seem to like the patch of bush by Sandymount.
We returned the way we came, meeting more sea lions than people.
Then it was home via Portobello and the mandatory after walk chocolate bar.