After working on the BRAHSS (behavioural response of Australian whales to seismic surveys) project in Queensland Australia, I travelled back to New Zealand for 10 days to say a few goodbyes before moving back to England.
Whilst in NZ there were a few things I wanted to do, amongst these, go to Kawhia and dig a natural hot pool on the beach and see a kiwi. Given my time restraints I didn’t fancy becoming nocturnal to try and see one the wild, so I accepted I would have to see one in captivity.
Trying to find natural hot springs on Kawhia beach.
After visiting Kawhia but not succeeding to find hot pools and going to Otorohanga kiwi house (Kiwis are awesome birds: basically just a huge furry bum with a long pointy beak!) we travelled to the small seaside town of Marokopa. It was a beautiful town next to a river with a wild black sand beach. We stayed at the Marokopa campsite in a retro caravan for 2 nights; It was a lovely clean place with amazing water tank toilets!
The next morning we travelled 5km South to Kiritehere beach, to see if we could find any waves. We walked along the beach to see if the point was working and I could not believe that there was so much plastic all along the beach.
A plastic bottle on Kiritehere beach with the point break in background.
We soon realised there was no surf, so we set out to do a Today’s Catch. After walking only 20m we had filled our bucket, but this didn’t deter us, we just piled it all up and hoped we would be able to carry it all back.
Collecting plastic on Kiritehere Beach.
Our collection of plastic, including a large plastic oil drum!
After hours and hundreds of pieces of plastic, despite there being loads still on the beach, we had collected all that we could carry so we missioned it back to the car to sort it.
Sorting the plastic on the grass by the Kiritehere stream
Here is a sample of what we found:
I have found shotgun shell wadding on almost all of my NZ beach cleans, this beach was by far the most I have collected on one beach.
Shot gun shell wadding & cases found on Kiritehere Beach
Micro plastics (NOAA definition plastics under 5mm, however on this beach clean I used all plastics <10mm) are present on most beaches around the world, I have certainly found them on all beach cleans I have done. Probably the most common microplastic is the nurdle or plastic pellet are regularly confused as fish eggs by birds and fish, so they are consumed, which fills up stomachs so the organism usually dies of starvation. I always try to collect as many micro plastics as I can, however this is very time consuming. This beach I particular had a lot of microplastics, probably the most I have seen on one beach!
Microplastics and Nurdles found on Kiritehere Beach
Kiritehere Beach was deserted with only about 10 houses surrounding it, therefore it is likely that the majority of this plastic had washed up. When I see beaches like this it really draws home the marine debris problem in our world and demonstrates the vast amounts of plastic in our oceans. I know this Today’s Catch made a difference to this beach, but it is very hard to walk away from a beach still covered in plastic, I just hope someone can go back and clean it again!
There was however one piece of plastic I didn’t try to remove:
Plastic tag still attached to a sheep a carcass.
Along with everything photographed on this page we also collected:
27 pieces of polystyrene
2 clothes pegs (which I took home to put on my washing line!)
1 Hair curler
2 parts of a syringes
1 Bic lighter
1 Body board leash
1 Lego piece
12 clear pieces of plastic
259 Pieces of miscellaneous plastic including:
183 small pieces of plastic (10mm-50mm)
42 medium pieces of plastic (50mm-200mm)
19 large pieces of plastic (200mm-500mm)