Sunday Star-Times

Why you should try it

Stephen Heard tries the rock-hopping activity of coasteerin­g.


The basics

Coasteerin­g (or sea coast traversing) is a popular leisure activity in New Zealand and one you’ve probably loosely achieved without even realising it. The physical discipline is defined as movement along rocky and exposed tidal coastline using any combinatio­n of the following: walking, climbing, scrambling, jumping and swimming, to the more extreme, abseiling, via ferrata and diving.

With 16,000 kilometres of coastline in New Zealand, it’s an extremely accessible activity when the tide is working its magic.

Giving it a bash

My past shoreline outings have typically been far more relaxed: scaling exposed outcrops in jandals with the hope of spying exotic sea life and to attempt the tackle-destroying sport of rock fishing. For this expedition I strapped on a pair of sturdy sneakers and gloves for a scramble across an uneven coastline.

The tide at Coromandel’s Waitete Bay drops remarkably low, while still allowing beach-goers access to swimmable water without trudging through a never-ending slop. The amount of exposed rock in both directions was perfect for a soft introducti­on to coasteerin­g.

I began at a mild pace, almost immediatel­y finding myself distracted by the dramatic rock formations and tiny rock pools. From there it was a quick jaunt out to the edge of the sea, hopping from pancake-flat earth across rugged boulders and sharp barnacles. At the top of the headland an ocean-battered car wreck provided more distractio­n.

My confidence grew as I made it further around the coast. The pace increased to a moderate gallop as I put more faith in oyster shells as grip rather than a potential source of laceration/sustenance should I become stranded.

An empty cleft between rocks, approximat­ely two metres deep and the same wide, presented itself as an obstacle and saw the expedition turn from rock hopping to rock climbing. On return, the gap was rapidly filling with water.

The round trip covered a solid four kilometres, a journey that prompted a refreshing plunge into the ocean at the end.

Coasteerin­g uses natural navigation, problem-solving and co-ordination. A moderate level of body strength is required to negotiate obstacles and a decent level of swimming is a must should you take the adventure off land. This all adds up to a rewarding caloriebur­ning activity.

Risk rating

Coasteerin­g involves a significan­t number of hazards. Checking the tides should be the first thing on your agenda. Give yourself plenty of time to get back on dry land and avoid being stranded between a rock and a hard place (the ocean). Further hazards include rock fall, hypothermi­a, falling from height, unexpected ocean swell and being exposed to direct sunlight. Safety equipment can be used and tailored to specific coasteerin­g environmen­ts. Good-quality footwear is the number one for grip on uneven surfaces; wetsuits and life vests can be worn to prevent scrapes and provide warmth in the water; gloves will protect against sharp obstacles; and hand ropes can be used for additional assistance.

 ?? SUPPLIED ?? Waitete Bay in the Coromandel is an easy spot to try the rock-hopping activity of coasteerin­g.
SUPPLIED Waitete Bay in the Coromandel is an easy spot to try the rock-hopping activity of coasteerin­g.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand