Wednesday, January 6, 2021

AMA 4, black and white, but not what you think

Heather asks, maybe something for the AMA. What is it that makes the sand on this particular beach look greyish? Is there black sand in amongst the lighter sand?

She was referring to the beach photo here. Here's another view of Wharariki Beach, at the very north end of the South Island.

There are in fact grains of dark black sand in with the white sand. The black sand is of volcanic origin and also contains iron oxide. There's a steel industry based on it. 

That's probably the shortest, most accurate, and factual answer in all my AMA post. 

The white and black are slightly different densities, and I think slightly different shapes, and they behave differently. What you sometimes end up with is patterns in the sand, formed by the action of water and wind. Some of them are amazingly photogenic. You can see a small version of one of them in yesterday's image of 2020. There were any number of times I stopped during a beach walk to admire the patterns and think about how to get a photo of it. Sometimes it worked, sometimes not. 

In this case, Wharariki is quite windy, and there's lots of sand, so there's actual big dunes. The black provides some interest and definition to the sand. Sometimes it forms a crust on top, and you'll see white footprints in the black sand. There are always footprints and paths in the sand, since you have to walk about a kilometre to get to the start of the beach, and then slog further over the sand to get to the water.

Not far from there, on the inland side of the spit, is Golden Bay. The sand there is a lovely tan and gold colour. Sometimes there's a bit of black as well. The beaches there are great for kids, although for photo purposes they're a little bland. On the family friendly front, you can usually park the car mere feet from the beach, and there's a bunch of beaches to choose from. Lots of restaurants and other tourist stuff not far away. Have I mentioned that the food in New Zealand is awesome? 

I would be remiss in pointing out that to get to any of these beaches you either take a boat or go over Takaka Hill. Up being the operative word. Very up. And up more. About 800 m of twisty turny up, and then down. Carefully. How long does it take? If you had coffee with breakfast you'll be looking urgently for a bathroom on the other side, and they aren't as close as you'd like. Worth it, though.

You could easily plan to go up and over and stay a week or two on the other side. There's lots to see and do, and then you'd only have to do the road twice. Keep in mind there's lots of twisty turny roads to even get to the start of that road.

Of the Day
I think I posted a slightly different version of this. But since I was talking about sand, this is another view of sand on a different beach. 

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