Katiki Beach – Shag Point

Sunday 7th July 2019

Eight trampers in two vehicles arrived at the car park at the north end of Katiki Beach at 10 o’clock, having driven the 45 km from Oamaru – the late start was determined by the 1 pm low tide. A ninth participant met them there. The two largest vehicles were ferried down to the car park at the south end of the beach and left there, with the third vehicle returning north with the drivers. About 10.30am we set off north up Katiki Beach to walk the 2kms to the northern limit where the beach meets the hills of Katiki Point. On the way we crossed the trickle that comprised Trotters Creek and turned around just before 11 o’clock at an unnamed estuary by the end of the beach.

We then headed southward down the beach, passing our starting point and stopping for morning tea about an hour after we had set off. It was now 1 ½ hours from low tide so the sand was getting wider and was firm enough to provide an excellent walking surface. The beach was sheltered from the stiff, cold northerly breeze so it was warm enough some top clothing layers to be removed. Shortly after smoko, we started coming across the many and varied rock formations which are a feature of Katiki Beach. There were reefs with round pools, Katiki boulders (similar to Moeraki boulders), layered strata in the cliffs, rock shelves notable for their protection of slippery algae, and, further along, myriad small spherical rocks like bowling balls. Navigation of the rock formations, not to mention photography, made for slow progress, so it was not until almost 1.15 that we passed the last rocks and settled down for lunch.

Lunch over, we walked down the sandy beach to the start of the rock shelf which runs down the north-east side of Shag Point and was now fully exposed by the low tide. Walking was a careful process, avoiding the dark algae which could make the surface extremely slippery and using poles for extra stability. The sandstone shelf supported an amazing variety of rock formations including huge Katiki boulders, many split to form open flower buds or spa pools, straight drainage channels, parallel tram lines and strange prehistoric scripts. Many of the rocks contained fossils. By 3 o’clock, we had reached the end of the walkable section and, watched by a group of young seals, we climbed up the rocks and then some steps to a grassy reserve behind some cribs.

Because of the time, we decided not to continue on to the point itself but, after a short break, turned right up the road and old railway formation for the 2km walk back to the cars. The 17 km walk in very pleasant conditions had offered much of interest for Chris, Bronwyn, Bess, Bevan, Julian, Lynette, Neville, Robbie and John.