Port Waikato – third post from Des Hunt

Adventure stories need places where adventures are likely to happen. I suppose they could happen in the middle of a city, but I like to choose places where there are fewer people.

Fortunately there are plenty of those in New Zealand. The third step in planning my new story Steel Pelicans was to find a location where my main character would have to live when he came to NZ. If you’ve read my other blogs, you’ll know that this story is to have a chemistry theme: boys messing about with explosives and dads who work in the steel industry.

I’d already decided that the father of MC would move from OZ to a job at NZ’s only steel mill which is in South Auckland on the Manukau harbour. However, lots of people live around there, so I needed another, less populated place for the climax. I chose Port Waikato.

I lived in South Auckland for almost thirty years and it is where our children went to school and turned into adults. When they were young we would often stay in a camping ground at Port Waikato, so I already knew the place quite well. But I hadn’t been there for almost 20 years and I figured that things might have changed. A return visit was needed. I found that it hadn’t changed much at all and was perfect for the climax of my story.

Sunset at Sunset beach, Port Waikato

Sunset at Sunset beach, Port Waikato

Port Waikato is where the Waikato River meets the sea. It has a river beach and a popular surf spot called Sunset Beach. It also has steep cliffs which contain fossils from Jurassic times, including some dinosaur fossils. There are large areas of sand dunes, swamps, mudflats, and dangerous undercurrents in both the river and the sea, and submerged rocks. All sorts of things could go wrong at Port Waikato, and in my story they would.

To tie in with my chemistry theme I wanted to have a P lab at Port Waikato. My main character and his friend, who was over on holiday from OZ, would get into trouble with the gang. I felt I’d have no trouble writing a climax that was explosive and very dangerous.  In fact it would be possible to make it too dangerous for the age group I write for – that’s something I will have to be careful with. The other thing I’ll have to take care over, is to not upset the locals.  So my gang will have to be outsiders who are upsetting everybody, not just my characters.

This dune buggy or something like it will feature in the story

This dune buggy or something like it will feature in the story

I spent two days there, photographing locations and walking over the dunes, climbing cliffs, and getting to know the layout of the land.  I discovered that quad bikes were the main way of getting around the place, so they will definitely feature in the story, as will a dune buggy.  Fireworks were on sale during the time I was there and I saw some very dangerous things happening on the beach. That gave me the idea to include fireworks in the story.

When I left, I felt I had more material than I was likely to use, which is a good thing, as it’s easier to throw away ideas than dream up new ones. I certainly had more than enough locations for the key events. What I had to do next was to sit down on my computer and sort out the characters that have all these adventures. I’ll tell you about them in my next blog.

2 Responses so far

  1. 1

    neve said,

    i really want to ride a go cart!

  2. 2

    Rachel said,

    That sunset pic looks really cool! great pic!


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