The Street Where I Live
Perched high on a spine of West Coast bush, the smell of wet manuka and asphalt retrieves childhood summers from their past. Beyond the crowning branches of a grand kauri rolls a wide macrocarpa-framed valley where dark native forest must once have lined the snaking Kaipara. A printers tray of paddocks spread northwest towards Southhead.
Here, despite the ridge’s elevation, a sea glimpse is hidden by a puriri so great it constitutes its own world. At night, when the wind is low and the Tasman raw, you can feel Muriwai's menacing presence loom. In soft airline rumblings the sea booms.
North of Kaukapakapa, Omeru hunches below SH16, hiding from the road. Beneath the highway to Wellsford, where logging trucks endlessly rattle, a ridged hillock – once a Pa – rests, whakaaroha, between two bright streams. Here, the ceaseless roar of a wide waterfall drowns the blacktop sibilance from above. From dank bush it overflows its lip into the clear, flat plane beneath. Sharp, fern-fringed terraces descend classically in steps from pool to pool.
With water at your flinching belly you wade towards the torrent. Ducking under the heavy curtain, you gasp. Fight reflexes jangle as the shock of cold strikes like electricity.
West Coast waves mean business on this raw winter’s stretch. Northwestwards the endless coast vanishes in the haze. In bright cold sun the sea roils like a pack of ravenous dogs scrapping over viscera. Salt-water saturated with seaweed the colour of blood and bone slavers at your ankles. Your splayed toes slap the ice-black sand. With your eyelids closed and aglow in the watery sunlight, you drift northward alone, the baying hounds to your west held at bay by the edge of the shore.
A black circling chopper signals a fall from the Muriwai reef. The unsated sea rages on.