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.


An evening swim at Cheltenham beach

On Wednesday 18th December I had a late night swim at Cheltenham beach, Devonport. High tide was at 9.19pm. It is a while ago now (11 days) and my memory is a bit hazy, but I don’t think I stayed until high tide. Cheltenham beach is one of my favourites.

I was the only person swimming there. While I was drying myself after the swim, a passerby informed me that he found my swim ‘admirable’. Admittedly it was a bit chilly, and rather late, but I was surprised to be a lone swimmer. The night before several other swimmers were evident at Pt Chevalier beach. What seems to be going on is Cheltenham beach serves a much smaller local population than Pt Chevalier beach so generally attracts fewer people, despite the fact that it is a much nicer beach. This is because Devonport is a relatively small suburb that contains not only Cheltenham but several beaches, but Pt Chevalier is the closest swimming beach to many large Auckland suburbs such as Point Chevalier itself, Waterview, Avondale, Sandringham, Mt Albert and Balmoral.

That night I had a GoPro in a waterproof case in my possession. Some of the experimental underwater shots turned out quite well. I like videoing water even more than photographing it so a waterproof camera is fabulous, although you can’t see what you are shooting until you get home and view it on a computer but that is all part of the fun.The underwater video experiments I shot are on a computer I won’t have access to until next year so I’ll upload some in a few weeks.

I didn’t take many photos and they aren’t that great (the GoPro was the focus of my attention) but here are a couple. The photo of Rangitoto shows that the tide was not quite high at that point in time.


Rangitoto Island from Cheltenham Beach


After sunset at Cheltenham Beach

Barely treading water

I’m getting further and further behind as time slips into the future. When this blog was first thought of, there were only two days of swims to recall. By the time the blog actually came to light, another week had been added. Now, the date is December 29 and I’m only just relating swims that occurred on the 18th, 11 days ago. Lol. As if they even matter. And, when lol starts a sentence, should it be capitalised? And, is ‘Lol’ a sentence in itself? Strictly speaking, it doesn’t contain a subject. Lol = ‘laugh out loud’. But, the implication is that I am the one laughing out loud. So, lol = ‘I am laughing out loud’ = a complete sentence.

One big time-waster in this process is photographs. They don’t sit where I want them to on the page and it takes ages for me to sort this out.

Another casualty of the backlog is the parallel commentary on our weird world. I’m so intent on relating each and every swim that this chit-chat is not coming up for air. And, the blank mind that presents me when I’m faced with a blank blog post is also a problem. Thoughts that seemed worthy of inclusion just evaporate. The tide is out.

So, what’s the answer? No pictures? Minimise beach talk? That would leave only the thoughts. My thoughts, made physical. This whole blog is a product of thoughts, with a few pictures to validate that an event actually happened, aside from writing the blog itself.

Anyway, high tide today is 20 minutes away so I’m going to get ready to have a swim. Although, by the time this post is published, that high tide would have been transformed into its accompanying low. Or the next high. Just like human psychology.

It’s raining. I’m all togged up with nowhere to go. Swimming in the rain is a bit comical because keeping the towel dry is difficult. But the rain is a bit too heavy right now and although the air temperature is quite warm it seems like a bit of a mission. It would be different if I could walk to the beach but I can’t. Next time I move house that will be a high priority. Looks like the rain has eased off. I will have just missed high tide, although I tend to think that the tide at Pt Chev beach is high about 10 minutes after the time stated in the mighty tome due to the distance the tide takes to travel up the harbour from Westhaven.


Today’s high tide mark


Grey day, grey beach

Well I made it just after high tide, which was stated to be at 5.07pm today, but it was probably about 5.20pm by the time the tide reached Pt Chevalier beach. I arrived just after that, and the photo on the left shows evidence of this because the water is just below the most recent high tide mark. The high tide today was a low high, so there are older high tide marks above today’s one.

I’ve broken one of my rules here as this beach visit actually occurred today, so is being recorded out of order. There are still numerous visits from December 18th that have not yet been included. Nevertheless, it is good to post this on the same day as the swim, I can still remember certain details. Showers of rain, a few other swimmers, murky water, westerly wind. It has been a busy little while and I’m very tired today.

Early tide, late tide

No swim for me yesterday! High tide clashed with a previous engagement. So, I can catch up on a few of those beaches and days, busying myself in beaches in an attempt to fix something that is broken.

Morning and evening tides, morning and evening swims. Tuesday 17th December, Pt Chevalier beach, high tides 8.17am and 8.35pm.


Early morning at Pt Chev Beach

This photo may look a bit drab, but that’s because the sun finds it difficult to shine on Pt Chevalier beach early in the morning due to sun rising behind steep slopes and high trees.

Even though a few slivers of sunshine manage to strike across the beach, the water is shaded until a few metres out, which means that overcoming the challenge of cool shady sand and shallow water very rewarding.


Looking towards the shore at Pt Chev beach

I like to take photos of water. It is a bit of an obsession.

I took a photo while standing in the sea facing the shore. Here comes the sun!

Water water everywhere…


Restless water


Water, sun and shadows







And then it was evening! A second swimmable high tide on the 17th at Pt Chevalier beach. There is not much light in pictures taken just after sunset.


A relatively calm evening


Pohutukawa tree at Pt Chev beach

A few more beaches, a few more days

Many beaches, many photos, many days but hardly any writing. I still haven’t resolved the problem of what to do with all the photos. They were going to accompany blogs, and be arranged chronologically. Perhaps I can still do that, in several multiple blogs, until things are completely up-to-date, for all you readers out there. Lol. That would mean organising the photos. And remembering when these things happened. And what time the tide is high each day. Luckily there are such things as tide tables.

But of course, our memories aren’t necessarily chronological, they slip and slide all over the place. Particularly when the memories are traumatic, these can take on a life of their own, warping, twisting and amplifying.

But here we’re all about swimming. Chronological swimming and high tides. A beach a day.

My first swim of the season was early evening on Saturday 14th December at Pt Chevalier beach. High tide was 6.08pm.┬áPt Chevalier is a gentle and very popular beach in the upper reaches of the Waitemata Harbour. It was sunny and the beach was crowded. I didn’t take any photos because this blog had not been thought of, let alone constructed. As Laurie Anderson once said, it wasn’t even a Hershey bar, in my father’s back pocket.

The second swim was a very refreshing Sunday evening experience at about 8pm with a group of friends at Piha. South Piha to be precise. Piha is surf beach on the west coast, with big waves and distinctive black sand. Once again I didn’t take any photos, but plenty of other people have.

We are lucky in Auckland as there are two tidal cycles (one on the east coast and one on the west) and each tidal cycle is diurnal, so has two high tides a day, meaning that there are usually four high tides each day around Auckland. So, on Monday I really had two swims, one in each harbour. The first one was during high tide (10.51am) at French Bay, a small beach on the Titirangi edge of the Manukau Harbour. And the second one was in the evening at Pt Chevalier beach on the Waitemata. High tide there was at 7.48pm.

Monday was the day I decided to create a blog, so, here are a couple of photos from the second swim! And by the way, my camera is not that flash.


Evening at Pt Chev beach looking north


Evening at Pt Chev beach looking west