You might wonder how anyone could love a beach made of black sand. This sand so fine it gets into everything, including the fabric of swimming costumes making light colours seem moldy and dirty. It absorbs heat from the sun to degrees that don't just cause discomfort, but some days actual burns. But nothing says 'home' to me (on days cloud is covering Mt Taranaki) as much as stopping at Mokau Beach and seeing this dark beachline curve along the coast.
I stop at Mokau on each of hundreds of trips from Auckland to Waitara - for a few years I took photos of the family and we have a very short record of the kids growing taller and older on the same or similar driftwood logs. It's a place to let the dog off and she ricochets between the grass and the waves, digging and rolling, chasing sticks and barking at wrestling children.
As soon as we stopped in the carpark, Tandia stripped down to skivvies and dived right down the bank and into the warm, fine black ironsand - she was instantly covered - black sand sticking to her white knickers, up her arms, over her face and up into her blonde hair. She didn't care, and neither did the dog. The sand sticking to Bailey's eyelids and making her look like she was wearing thick eye liner.