January 25 Town & Beach (Day 120)

A beautiful sunrise foretold a beautiful day today.

So we ventured out to walk through town. There is one main street, highway 99, with just one block on either side comprising of residential blocks. There are a few very old houses that need restoration and some newer holiday homes. Closer to the river are the commercial businesses along hwy 99.  Some buildings are beautifully decorated with murals!

This mural highlights the Tui, the iconic NZ bird that is found throughout the country and adds it’s melodious song to the surroundings!

This mural highlights the treasure of the southern ocean and the Aurora Australis (the Southern Lights)!

As you approach the river entrance the town spreads out a little more and a bridge crosses the river. More holiday homes are on the south side of the river and spread along the the oceanfront beach. The town is situated between the oceanfront and the estuary of the Pourakino River. Before European settlement the area was home to a large Maori Pa, they were drawn to the area for the abundant food from the sea and the fresh water estuary. The first European settlers were shore based sealers and whalers in the early 1830’s. The town’s heyday was about 1862 with lots of whaling and shipping, importing goods from Australia and other parts of New Zealand to move them on throughout the country. As the river began silting in and ship based whaling prevailed, Riverton’s importance decreased and by the 1880’s the main industries became fishing and farming.

To commemorate the shared importance of sea going vessels to the people of Riverton, this art installation combines the woven flax sails of the Maori waka and the canvas sails of the Pakeha wooden ships.

We continued our walk along the river towards the ocean where we got another view of Stewart Island.

Stewart Island still looks like a little bump way off in the distance.

Walking along the shell strewn beach we were lucky to see dozens of Oystercatchers along the shore, two of the 3 species found in NZ no less!

The Pied Oystercatcher is the smaller bird with a white breast, the Variable Oystercatcher is the more rare larger all black bird. this one looks similar to the Black Oystercatcher we’ve seen on the Oregon coast. Unfortunately the picture doesn’t show the bright orange beaks the birds have.

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