Day Trip - Sunday 30 November 2014
Two things dictate successfully descending into Mercer Bay to experience the magnificent cathedral cave.
Firstly, the tide, it’s imperative to reach the cathedral cave as close to low tide as possible and not to stay there too long.
Secondly, the weather, preferably rain free with little or no wind.
There are only a very limited number of opportunities that occur on a Sunday that also fit within our usual time span. Although the preceding week was windy and showery and there were a few showers enroute to the coast on the day,the conditions from start to finish once we set out tramping were very acceptable for what can potentially be a dangerous cliff descent. There were thirty on the bus plus another twenty-one who had made there own way out by private transport. A total of fiftyone!
23 ATC members, 9 OAC ( Outdoor Activities Club ) members, plus 19 others. I had quite a few texts and phone calls during the preceding week so I was not surprised to see such a great turnout!
A few basic rules from me before we set out. Take the descent slowly and make full use of the three rope assisted sections along the way. Take care wading through the surging sea whilst exiting the seacave (there are two entrance/exits making it more like a tunnel)
A show of hands also indicated that less than ten had done this trip before.
Off then around Mercer Bay Loop track to the not so obvious access point to the way down the cliff face. Pleased to have several of the more experienced trampers providing assistance at various more difficult sections, particularly the three places that were rope assisted.
It took about 10 minutes over an hour to get everyone safely down to the beach.
Then it was into the pitch black seacave. Sure enough the sea came surging in to meet us as we waded from the exit and around into the cathedral cave. This cave has extremely high walls with the roof having caved in sending down a shaft of sunlight and throwing a spotlight on to the sand at the back of the cave. A truly magical sight with everyone agreeing that it was well worth the effort spent to get there.
About fifteen minutes in here then it was time to retrace our steps back to the beach where some opted to have lunch and some preferring to climb back up the cliff first.
After lunch we went around to the lookout on the end of a small ‘peninsula’ which provided sweeping views south towards Whatipu and the Manukau Heads and north towards Piha.
Then it was back around Mercer Bay Loop track to the finish of our tramp at our starting point at the end of Log Race Road.
A highly successful day for a really large group!
Ian W Morris - leader and scribe