Otaki beach, north of Wellington, New Zealand, is a wonderfully inspiring place to visit. It is often blustery, a wide swathe of log-strewn sand backed by grassy dunes.
This beach carries the tales of two peoples. In the early 1820s, Maori surged up and down it, migrating or going to war. It was the road by which the fearsome Ngati Toa chief Te Rauparaha arrived in the southern North Island. It was the route he took in his forays to attack the people of the southern Manawatu. And it was where war parties came in their quest to hunt him down, though he sat safe in his island refuge of Kapiti.
Later this same beach was a highway for settlers. It was here in 1850 that Donald McLean intercepted the Lieutenant-Governor, John Eyre, and rode with him for a few hours, sorting out the deal that gave McLean a state salary and set the wheels in motion for the first big government purchases in Hawke’s Bay. A political discussion that shaped the history of New Zealand’s settler world – played out, right here on this beach.
Even the name of the place carries inspiration. Otaki means variously ‘the place of a staff stuck into the ground’ or ‘the place of the yellow-eyed mullet’.
It is inspiring to walk where others have walked – to hear the crashing of the breakers and feel the wind-blown sand, hear the hiss of the wind through the grasses by the sandy edge. It is a place to contemplate, a place to think, a place to feel the memories. A place that fuels new ideas, new perspectives. An inspiring place for writers.
Do you ever visit a beach that inspires you?
Copyright © Matthew Wright 2012