Aramoana and its beaches occupy the western side of the heads and are a fairly decent, non-life threatening surf break, nice walking and the chance to see the local avian and marine wildlife.
Below; still on the way out there. Some of the small bays along the road are good for cockles (Littleneck Clams) and the occasional scallop. There's fuck-all dairying around here and very few sewage outfalls so the water is cleaner than you might think.
Thankfully logistics and local opposition prevailed and all that remains of that shitty prospect is this gimpy old mole, which extends for over a kilometre into the Pacific ocean.
Orcas, dolphins, Right and Humpback whales migrate right past here on their way to and from Antartica. The larger species occasionally enter the harbour but their memories are long (their putative lifespans exceed 200 years) and people are only just beginning to regain their trust.
I hope we deserve it. I fear that we don't.
Black Fronted and Caspian Terns also frequent the area.
Above: The eastern flank of the harbour terminates in Taiaroa Head, home to a lighthouse and the only mainland Royal Albatross breeding colony on the planet.
Albatross need all the help they can get due to the massive assault on their global populations both from overfishing and bycatch mortality. But when we went to the Royal Albatross tourist centre we thought the tour charges (upwards of $100 for a family) were pretty obscene and in fact prohibitive to the majority of local punters. Considering there are no other opportunities to get a decent look at these astonishing birds, the price is unfairly excessive and just one more example of how access to wild places and species is being throttled by exclusive and commercial interests.
The Albatross Centre is a trust but still: those prices. Not cool.
Other interesting species frequent Aramona beach including New Zealand Sea Lions. We were once on the rickety Aramoana wharf with our nephew when a massive black shape cleaved the water just a few metres directly below; though my first thought was Great White, it lumbered out onto the sand as a mighty black pinniped. Their heavy shag, blunt dog faces and sheer massive presence (3.5m/450kg) are hard to convey if you've never had the pleasure. The words sand bear definitely spring to mind.