Peaceful walk at blue lagoon

Dunedin's own blue lagoon.  Photos: Clare Fraser
Dunedin's own blue lagoon. Photos: Clare Fraser
It’s as pretty as a postcard and has a story worth writing home about.

Half an hour’s drive from Dunedin is our own blue lagoon, Purakaunui Inlet. For the two hours straddling low tide you can do a loop walk around the lagoon’s edge - if you’re prepared for wet legs at the end.

The loop passes houses tucked away in the bush and boat sheds as cute as mini wharenui. Then there is echoey emptiness, in a good way.

Start at the boat ramp but first, for a peek out to sea, reverse down the one-way track around the base of Potato Point to the inlet’s mouth.

Back on the circuit, the route follows quiet roads and bushy tracks. Just choose the options closest to the water’s edge.

Past the township the bay opens up. You might find yourself alone with the distant sounds of wading seabirds. On a calm day, the stillness is the most still of the still.

Photos: Clare Fraser
Photos: Clare Fraser

Once at the beach, there’s the option of Mapoutahi Pa on the left. A small climb up to the headland leads out to what must have been a brilliantly advantageous site, with its steep sides and beady-eyed views.

Just up the coast was Huriawa Pa at Karitane and just down at today’s Taiaroa Head was Pukekura Pa.

Sitting on the headland’s edge, it’s easy to imagine all the commuting up and down the coast by waka.

Most impressively, one guy, Te Wera, did the dash up to Karitane using his own kicking-power.

He had originally built the pa at Karitane. However, there were tensions between the people there and those at Pukekura, to such an extent that one day Te Wera was accused of killing someone from Pukekura through makutu.

Things got heavy so Te Wera escaped to a house at Purakaunui. He was followed, there was violence, people were killed but Te Wera escaped and swam all the way up to his pa.

More utu followed and eventually resulted in Purakaunui’s name when people inhabiting Mapoutahi Pa there were attacked and killed and their bodies thrown into the sea.

Heaped up on the shore they looked like a big pile of logs, hence the name: "pu" means to lie in a heap, "rakau" means wood and "nui", big.

These days you’re lucky to see another soul on the beach. After the pine trees you can walk across the watery flats to the grassy reserve then back to the start.

The lazy option is to make an early beeline straight across the channel back to the boat ramp but even at low tide the water hits chest height.

Wading across without knowing how high it would reach was an instant way of finding "presence". At least it was summer.


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