May 2020: A trip to Herbertville

Too late to turnaround

On Queens Birthday Weekend 2020, after the end of the Covid-19 lockdown, we escaped our home for a long weekend at Herbertville and Cape Turnagain. The weather forecast wasn’t looking great, but we were keen to leave the 7-week solitude at home.

Herbertville is a small beach-side settlement in the Manawatu district near the border with Hawke’s Bay, about 60 minutes’ drive from Dannevirke or Waipukurau. It sits on the side of the meandering Wainui River that flows to the sea just east of the town. At the turn of the century Herbertville was a thriving community. It had a large hotel and several shops, a police station and a blacksmith and its shallow sandy beach acted as a landing spot for vessels to drop off passengers and cargos to make their way inland on horse drawn coaches. Nowadays, Herbertville has a small number of seaside baches, a golf course grazed by sheep, traditional country pubs and a campground.

The coast has miles of sandy beaches north and south, offering excellent walking opportunities. It also hosts a seal colony at Cape Turnagain, about a 45-minute walk north from the town.


Cape Turnagain

Cape Turnagain

Cape Turnagain is a high prominent headland near Herbertville in the Manawatu district near the border with Hawke’s Bay. Cape Turnaround was named by Captain Cook who used the location as a well-remembered point where he turned his ship and retraced his steps.


Cloud Reflections

Cloud Reflections

The brown-coloured beach at Herbertville has wide sand flats with a gentle wave movement on the low-gradient slopes. The large shallow seawater areas it thus creates, reflect the clouds above which provides for fascinating photographs.


As you get nearer to the seal colony walking north, you’ll come across more and more sedimentary rocks that stick out of the sand and provide an interesting subject to offset the vast sand flats.

Apparently, the seal colony is a winter haul out, so the number of Fur seals increase during the winter months. However, when we were there at Queens Birthday Weekend in 2020, we didn’t see that many. That may have had something to do with the weather, because as soon as we got to the rocks where they hang out, dark clouds began to roll in and we decided to turn back to avoid getting wet.


Herbertville Beach Rock

Herbertville Beach Rock

Sedimentary rock exposed on a cloud covered stretch of sandy beach at Herbertville.


We made it back to our bach just before it started to rain non-stop, and the remainder of our trip we spent inside with the heater on, entertaining ourselves, and watching the sheep graze on the local golf course. However, I went out one more time to capture a dramatic-looking Cape Turnagain.


Too late to turnaround

Too late to turnaround

A long exposure of Herbertville beach at Cape Turnagain, taken just before the weather turned to custard on Queens Birthday Weekend. This beach has wide, reflective sand flats that are ideal to capture the tidal and wave movement.


All in all, it was a very relaxing time and we’re looking forward to visiting Herbertville again in the future as it is a beautiful and peaceful place with many photo opportunities.


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