Sunday, October 23, 2005

Fossil-hunting on the west coast - Saturday 23 October

On the week after the Oropi School AgriGala day, we spent two days and a night (Labour Day Weekend) at our frind John Townsend's farm overlooking Kawhia Harbour, on the west coast. The visit was partly designed around a fossil-hunting expedition which I'd been thinking about for some time. We'd known about the existence of fossil sites near Kawhia for some time, and in fact had made an abortive hunt for some Belemnites a couple of years ago. However, we weren't even sure that we were hunting in the right place, and decided we needed to do our homework a little better before our next attempt. We had subsequently been given a map showing the location of one of the sites by the mother of a boy in Hannah's class (he's mad keen on fossils) and I did some research on the net, coming up with several more fossil locations and detailed maps, so were indeed a little better prepared.

The first photo was taken outside the Townsend house at Kawhia, as we were setting out for Kiritehere beach, just south of the tiny settlement of Marokopa, an hour and a half's drive or so south-east of John's farm.
Chloe, Hannah, Felicity and Camilla setting out on our fossil-hunting expedition.
Here are John and Chloe, clambering over rocks as we make our way to the southern end of the beach on an outgoing tide.
John & Chloe at Kiritehere Beach
The fossils weren't tricky to find - in fact once we got to the right spot, it was difficult to find a rock which didn't have any! This shot of one of the first decent ones I found, together with my geological hammer, which has been gathering dust - well it would have been if it wasn't in a box - on the storeroom/office shelves. The fossils here are brachiopods - according to the article from the NZ Journal of Geology & Geophysics that I sourced on the net, it could be one of several species, so I can't be more precise.
Gill, Hannah and John, searching at the base of a rather spectacular cliff face ...
Gill, Hannah and John, searching ...
... and another find brachipod specimen.
This one from a shell bed!
Brachiopod shell bed
As the tide went out, more rocks were exposed, but these held more living sea life than fossils.
Louise and rocks at low tide
Chloe, John and Felicity, 'rationalizing' their fossil collection.
Chloe, John and Felicity, 'rationalizing' their fossil collection
The Payne and Townsend children clambering on the rocks.
Payne and Townsend children clambering on the rocks - Kiritehere Beach
As the sun started to get lower in the sky, we turned back towards the car. Hannah here is laden with finds. Lesley unfortunately dropped her digital camera in a rock pool which put something of a dampener on proceedings - electronic equipment and seawater don't mix, as I found out with my cell phone a few years ago.
Hannah walking across the rocks at low tide laden with finds
Back at the cars again ... John & Toby Townsend
John and Toby
Then it was back past the beachside village of Marokopa ...

... to Kawhia village, a stop at the fish and chip shop before settling in at The Blue Chook - children welcomed - (note the clucking chicken on the bar counter in the background) for a good feed and a couple of drinks.
Paynes and Townsends at The Blue Chook in Kawhia

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