It is possible to swim at low tide

No swim on Thursday 19th of December and despite a busy day, I managed to squeeze in a mid-afternoon swim at Mission Bay on Friday 20th. The notable thing about this is that high tide on the Waitemata Harbour was at 10.18am, but the tide does not need to be high for a swim at Mission Bay, one of Auckland’s most popular beaches. The surrounding suburb is affluent and there are many well attended shops, cafes and restaurants right across the road from the beach and park.


The tide is not high


Mission Bay fountain


Sunny cloud drifting across Mission Bay


Rangitoto Island from Mission Bay, with exposed low tide sand in the foreground

Conditions were a bit different at Pt Chevalier beach on the morning of Saturday 21st December. A strong westerly whipped in beneath a blanket of clouds. Propelled by the prevailing westerly, waves arrive onshore at an angle creating a longshore current that gradually shifts sand from the south end of the beach to the north.


Longshore current at Pt Chevalier beach

Beaches change. Sand moves. Dunes shift. The ‘dunes’ at Pt Chevalier (and many city beaches) have been tar-sealed or concreted – which is ironic really because concrete is made of sand.


Solidified ‘dunes’ on the left at Pt Chevalier



Looking towards the north end of Pt Chevalier beach at high tide

This may have happened because people don’t seem to like it when the physical environment changes. I love the way beaches change both in the short-term due to tides, and long-term in response to different kinds of weather. I find this relatively easy to accept. However, I find it ridiculously difficult to accept that people change, and sometimes they drift away. But, it is still possible to swim at low tide.