For me, rock hopping feels like meditation.

Scramble across a decent bit of coastline, and I can't think of anything else.

Forget conversation. Forget ­money issues or work drama.

All I can do is left foot, right foot. Water sucking at the rocks and barnacles for grip.


In 30 years I had never been to the heads of Manukau Harbour.

How many people, I wonder, must have descended from high above those headlands and stared down from A320, thinking: I gotta go there one day?

It took 58 minutes from the ­Auckland CBD to reach the car park at Omanawanui Track.

You'll pass the odd house bus and there's a little ford to navigate but the gravel road feels robust.

At the base of Manukau's northern headland, you can join the Hillary Trail or wander on the beach in the wind.

They used to hold concerts out here, apparently. Everyone would schlep out from the city and they'd get an orchestra to play in a cave.

We timed our run for low tide to fossick around the fringe of ­Paratutae Island.

Hidden in the stretches of black sand, dotterels nurse their chicks.


A squall blew in and rain fell hard. Jeans were a bad choice; an emergency poncho was a win.

It'll sound ridiculous, but from that rocky little pimple on the edge of the Tasman, there's a spot where you can look back and you'd swear you were somewhere overseas.

On that north side of the ­Manukau Heads, the earth and the bush ­explode from the ocean a bit like those almighty rock incisors of Ha Long Bay, Vietnam, or the hills above Hong Kong.

It reminded me of Hawaii and the opening scene in Jurassic Park. I've never seen anything quite like it along a New Zealand coast.

As we hopped and lifted ­ourselves around the rocks, ­hundreds of big and wary crabs eased themselves into the cracks.

We sheltered in a nook when the next squall blew through. Between the rain and the cloud, you could just make out the heads on the south side of the harbour and the lighthouse on the hill.

The ocean breathed in and out and sucked at the rocks.

Somewhere high, a jet straightened up to make its final descent.

Explore your backyard.

Jack Tame is on News­talkZB, Saturday, 9-noon.