Most of the West Coast beaches aren't safe for swimming - but this one, tucked away inside the Buller river mouth is a great find and has much smaller waves. The locals know about it - but it isn't signed off the road or marked on the map. You can access it by cycle along the Kawatiri river trail or drive up off Coates Street. Great for a quick swim or bodyboard, and 5 minutes from our house.
"Why are you moving to Westport? Doesn't it always rain over there?" That's how lots of our Christchurch friends responded to the news of our move here this summer. We even received a number of umbrellas as leaving presents! Well, to my friends in Christchurch, I have to say that in a highly scientific study, in the 8 days that we have lived here, more days than not, we've had wall-to-wall sunshine.
I'm posting this on the day that it was reported that The West Coast Regional Council wants more scientific evidence to prove human-driven climate change is happening before it will commit to reducing emissions. Now I recognise I'm wading into a big debate here. But as someone who has studied Geology at University, I don't need any more convincing. Climate change is real. And yes, we are causing it. And in parts of Buller, it is obvious to the locals that sea level is rising. The Radio New Zealand article linked above quotes from a resident of Hector, one of the towns of the Buller Bay where storms over the last year have caused a huge amount of coastal erosion.
Of course, I also understand that the West Coast has often had to bear the brunt of some ill-thought through government policy. Coasters can be pretty suspicious of what gets decided in Wellington. I get that. What I would hope for here is that we are able to commit to the substance of the bill, but we need something in return. We need investment into our region that will guarantee jobs and productivity into the future. And if that can be zero-carbon industry, so much the better.
In the meantime, I'll just keep going to the beach and enjoying the sunshine. Until it all gets eroded away, that is ;-)
NZ Maori identify themselves by their local mountain and river, but I grew up in the south of England where the land is flat, and our local river - the Blackwater - lived up to its name as being one of the most polluted streams in the UK. So now I'm claiming the Buller River, or in te reo Maori the Kawatiri, as my own.