Story: Tsunamis

A crab’s eye view

A crab’s eye view

Rossi King-Turner, aged nine, sits on the beach in front of her home at Canoe Bay, Pelorus Sound in 1960.

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Contributed by Rossi King-Turner of Nelson.

We had no neighbours, phone, or electricity, and access was by boat, or by a steep one-and-a-half-mile walk through thick bush and scrub from the closest road. Our radio, to conserve battery power, was not used much.

On this day three of us were playing on the beach in front of the house, when we noticed the tide receding, quite quickly. It went out further than we had ever seen before. Intrigued, we were heading off down the beach for a better look, when we saw it coming in again. Not a wave, just a surge, unusual for our bay.

We dashed back up the beach ahead of it, delighted when we and the sea all reached the extreme high tide mark together. The water swirled around us for a bit, then inexplicably started going out again. This performance was repeated a number of times over the next hour or so.

We revelled in it, whooping and hollering as we followed the ebb, seeing how many cartwheels and handstands we could do in its path. I remember standing on my head way down the beach to get a crab’s eye view of this peculiar sea happening. We became increasingly daring, thrilled with the excitement of waiting as long as possible before racing the tide back in, and we were very disappointed as it gradually returned to normal behaviour.

That night Dad, with friends, arrived to tell us there had been an earthquake in Chile and tidal waves were due to hit New Zealand, ‘So you kids better stay off the beach tomorrow.’

Did they blanch when we regaled them in shouts of laughter of the day’s events?

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How to cite this page:

Eileen McSaveney, 'Tsunamis - Experiences of tsunamis', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/en/community-contribution/9398/a-crabs-eye-view (accessed 20 September 2019)

Story by Eileen McSaveney, published 12 Jun 2006, reviewed & revised 1 Aug 2017