Street theatre

Oriental Bay

Beach makeover at Oriental Bay

Striding out during the day is always interesting. It’s like watching a new play every day. The background stays the same but not the foreground action.

While walking along Wakefield Street near Chaffers New World, the first amazing event happened. The traffic was busy as always, and there were people walking, running and cycling. There was also a group of young men playing with a football on Waitangi Park. As I crossed the road along Cambridge Tce, the football bounced out onto the road in the path of an oncoming car. Oh my gosh…what possible outcome? Well, the car seemed to just glance the ball and it was returned straight into the arms of the player! Almost as if the car had literally thrown it back. I was stunned. I was expecting a big squish, or the car to swerve – certainly not a return pass. Amazing…

Further on, when I rounded the bend past Freyburg pool I saw three massive vehicles on the beach of Oriental Bay. One, a digger collecting up the sand in its huge claw-like mit, the second a big truck collecting the sand from the digger, and the third a bulldozer moving backwards while evening out the piles of sand. It was a bit like a ballet – with the digger’s claw, full of sand suspended in the air waiting for the truck to get close enough to take the load. Then the truck taking it’s load along the beach and discharging it into piles in the path of the waiting bulldozer’s trough. They had quite a system going – I guess they’re used to it – it was fun to watch.

[As an aside, festival goers will be treated to heavy machinery ballet next Feb/March with an orchestrated performance of the Dance of the Diggers. It was such a treat when we saw a similar performance at the Stadium several years ago. I could have sworn the diggers each had a personality. It was absolutely brilliant.]

In strong northerlies, the beach on Oriental Bay gets washed away. The beach is relatively new and much of it is manmade. Until a few years ago, there was little of it left and what there was, was sub-standard. But the advent of beach volleyball competitions and with Wellington’s mayor living nearby, there was increased interest in beautifying the area. The beach makeover has been, for the most part, successful – until a gale force northerly strikes. That was last week.

On a good summer’s day, the beach is alive. Even last January on a seriously foul day – the wind was gusting something awful – when I had committed to swim in the Harbour Swim, there were massive crowds of people everywhere. And over two thousand swimmers were not deterred. It was truly invigorating.

A lot of money and effort has gone in to making the beach more more sandy underfoot and therefor more attractive. It requires a high degree of maintenance, especially after a howling northerly. But, it has become a bit of a jewel in Wellington’s crown along with Cafe Eis over the road – an small boutique cafe selling THE most delicious icecreams.

It was a good walk – I had a lot to think about and a lot to be thankful for.


One thought on “Street theatre

  1. Lynsey

    I saw the digger from my office window and I suddenly remembered those wonderful days spent digging in the sandpit. Well, in the sand, we didn’t have a sandpit. I commented to my colleagues (who were hard at work and – unlike me – were not staring dreaming out the window just like those long days in school) that the Council could make an annual profit out of this activity by charging boys disguised as men to play in the sandpit using the big boys toys. It’d be so cool.


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