Tautuku Beach

A superb bush-backed beach along an unspoiled stretch of shore. Here the bush dips down to the sand, its trees meeting in a dense canopy over the approach road. A number of cribs nestle on Tautuku Peninsula, at the southern extremity of the beach, but the only access to these is across the mouth of the Fleming River. To the left is Isa’s Cave, and off the northern point is tiny Rainbow Island, named after its blowhole which, in certain conditions, performs with prismatic effect.

Its Maori name is Rerekohu („flying mist“). 29.5 km. Signposted S on Highway 92. Tautuku Peninsula was the site of the whaling station „Tauchuk“, established by William Palmer in 1839 for Johnny Jones. Palmer stocked Rainbow Island with rabbits for use as food, an act that local folklore attributes to Captain Cook. Tuckett in 1844 described the whalers as living on the peninsula „in comfortable little cottages, and had cleared and cultivated some ten acres of land, on which were grown wheat, barley, and potatoes. They also had ducks, fowl and goats.“ After about seven or eight years the station was abandoned.

Dr David Monro, also here in 1844, wrote: „Behind Tautuku a visitor may explore the mountain dreaded by the Natives on account of its being the favourite residence of the Mairoero [i.e. maeroero – the South Island equivalent of the North Island’s patupaiarehe]. This is a wild man of the woods, strong, cunning and mischievous, and addicted to running off with young people and damsels. His body is covered with coarse and long hair, which also flows down from the back of his head nearly to his heels. To compensate for this excessive quantity behind, his forehead is said to be bald. He was vividly described to us by a Maori who had seen one long ago, when he was a little boy, and was of opinion that there is not a more fearful wild fowl than the Mairoero living.“