Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

New Zealand: Natural surfside sculpture

with 12 comments

Naturally Sculpted Surfside Rock 8043

Here’s a naturally sculpted surfside rock at Mount Maunganui as it looked on February 25th, the day before the one that gave you the last few pictures.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 15, 2015 at 5:10 AM

12 Responses

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  1. Although I understand the science, it still amazes me that a “soft” element such as water, or wind, can erode such a solid material as rock. I say “soft” as on more than one occasion when younger I landed flat doing a dive into the school pool. Ouch.

    Steve Gingold

    July 15, 2015 at 5:20 AM

    • You’ve reminded me of an ancient understanding of strength and time that I read about a long time ago. I think it was Buddhist or Chinese (those aren’t mutually exclusive), and it had to with the unimaginably long time it would take for a mountain to be worn down to nothingness by a bird flying low over it once a century with a string hanging from its beak and grazing across the rock. I imagine you’d prefer to be grazed by that string than to have enured those belly flops.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 15, 2015 at 7:19 AM

  2. Weirdly beautiful. It suggests a time, millions of years ago, when life was just beginning to emerge on the planet. Behold, clinging to that surf-beaten rock, our ancestors.


    July 15, 2015 at 5:23 AM

    • I like the way you described this as weirdly beautiful. The original meaning of the word weird was ‘fate,’ and it’s the eventual fate of every thing and person to fade away. Your second sentence reminded me of the first part of the movie 2001.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 15, 2015 at 7:45 AM

  3. Another fascinating formation – I must take a trip to New Zealand soon.


    July 15, 2015 at 11:51 AM

  4. Nice find Steve. You have given me some ideas. I need to explore the rocky shore around Napier a bit more

    Raewyn's Photos

    July 15, 2015 at 3:30 PM

    • I walked only a small part of the way around Mount Maunganui, and there may well have been plenty more formations to photograph if I’d had more time. You’re not far from Mount Maunganui, so I’ll bet you have similarly interesting things near Napier.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 15, 2015 at 4:39 PM

  5. I can imagine a head-like form that could be among a group of tiki figures such as the Māori use in a pouwhenua (http://www.teara.govt.nz/en/artwork/2437/tangata-whenua-pou), similar to a totem pole. There’s an eye and a face-like silhouette with an open-mouthed grimace. It’d give me pause!


    July 15, 2015 at 5:35 PM

    • Good of you to see and point out the similarity; I’m glad you provided the link because I wasn’t familiar with Māori figures of that sort. I can say, though, that the subject of the photograph didn’t give me pause, except for being careful where I walked on the seaside rocks when I took the picture.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 15, 2015 at 8:18 PM

  6. I can’t get over that water. The colors are beautiful. The blue and green complement one another so well.

    Looking at the rock, I can’t help wondering if the Texas hill country didn’t have a similar appearance when the sea still was shaping our landscape. There’s a good bit of rock around Kerrville that looks just like this: holes and all, although I suspect this is volcanic rather than limestone.

    I used to amuse myself when hiking by finding pieces with holes in them and hanging them on tree branches, as high as I could reach. There wasn’t any real purpose to it, but it made me laugh to think about hunters or hikers coming along, seeing the rocks, and puzzling over them.


    July 15, 2015 at 9:57 PM

    • I couldn’t get enough of that ocean color, and I know you remember that to inaugurate the New Zealand series I chose a picture that showed that color:


      As you say, the Texas Hill Country is limestone, and I believe the sculpted rocks we see here are the result of acidic water percolating through the stone over many millennia after the shallow sea had long since retreated. In contrast to that, the New Zealand coast is still being sculpted by wind and waves.

      When I’m wandering in nature it’s not unusual to come across a rock in a place that I know took human agency to get there, and I’ve assumed someone was out to create a bit of incongruity that would grab the attention of people passing by. It’s also not unusual to see cairns of stones in the woods, particularly near creeks.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 15, 2015 at 10:28 PM

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