Jul 22 2020

Chrystalls Beach, Toko Mouth

No. 47 on old hardcopy list of 113 club tramps. “Toko Beach. M Young”; also No. 65 on old hardcopy list of 113 club tramps. “Chrystalls Beach Farm”

Location: 59 km from the car park.

Directions: On SH1, before Milton, at Helensbrook intersection, left onto Forsyth Road, right onto Back Road, left onto Glenledi Road.
Best in Summer. The stock winter over.
20. 22/7/2020. Trampers. Chrystalls Beach. Leaders : John Gardiner and Dave Roberts.
Ever been to Chrystalls Beach? Do you know where it is?
Whenever I ask these questions, the answer is always :-
“Never heard of it”.
Well now myself and 30 other trampers can answer these questions.
Chrystalls Beach is just east of Milton, north of the Tokomairiro River Mouth.
On Wednesday 22nd July, seven cars transported our group of 31 to the starting point for our tramp, parking on the side of Irishman’s Road.
The journey took us about an hour, and included four different gravel roads from S.H.1. just before Milton.
Our usual “strict” timetable for morning tea and lunch was somewhat disrupted by our late arrival(approx. 10.45 am) and the lack of suitable shelter from an icy cold blustery South Westerly wind.

Photo and Caption Gordon – “And we’re off”.

Setting out “into the teeth” of this wind, we had brunch (really morning tea and lunch combined) in the shelter of a hayshed at 11.25am.

Photo and Caption John – “Brunch in the hayshed – note the mud in foreground”.

This early part of the tramp was over a Dairy farm, with all Dairy farm’s usual trappings on offer i.e. cow pads and mud.
As expected the mud was particularly deep around gates, and on the farm tracks. A number of electric fences traversed these tracks  the “ gates” comprising plastic insulators and hooks.
A special shout out to Margreet Simpson who grabbed one of these fences, wearing woollen gloves, exclaiming “It’s not on” only for the next person to come near it exclaiming “it’s hot!”.

Photo and Caption Gordon – “Through the live electric fence to the river”.

Not surprisingly we all treated this bit of fence with the respect it deserved!
A special thanks to the farm manager, Gareth Ferguson, for allowing us to tramp through the property.
We left the property to tramp along the side of the Tokomairiro River towards the river mouth.

Photo and Caption Helen – “Low tide essential for this pleasant estuary walk”.

Here we scrambled through some marshy terrain for a short spell before a sandy river edge made the going much easier. This is definitely a tramp best attempted at, or near,  low tide.

Photo and Caption Gordon – “Toko mouth village”.


Photo and Caption John – “Well spread out trampers.”

At the river mouth, on the far side, lies Toko Mouth Township. A quaint little town of at least 21 very eclectic cribs – delightful.
The river mouth included a huge area of accumulated coarse river sand , as Bruce Wright exclaimed,  “ideal for lining the Budgey Cage!” At this point a large row of sand hills separated us from the beach,  but we were obviously below sea level as breakers could be seen, not far out, over the top of these sand hills. Apparently Chrystalls Beach got it’s name from the sparkles (like crystals) in it’s sand.

Photo and Caption Gordon – “On the windy beach”.

The walk along the beach with a tail wind now decreasing in intensity and sharpness, gave the leg muscles a good workout, but was very pleasant. This is obviously a rugged piece of coastline with the wave pattern erratic, indications being that these are very dangerous waters. Indeed this beach is the site of the February 1907 wreck of the French sailing ship Marguerite Mirabaud.

Photo and Caption Eleanore – “Shipwrecks along the Otago coast – in particular Toko mouth/Chrystalls beach”.

Interestingly an auction was held on the beach to dispose of the ship’s cargo.  By 1.00 pm, with our group being a bit spread out, we regrouped at Cooks Head .

Photo and Caption John – “Reaching a milestone – Cooks rock”.

This is a large rock that stands proud alone on the beach. It looked airily alien, like it had just been dropped there, and somehow didn’t belong!

Photo and Caption Gordon – “Cook’s Head Rock”.

Arthur Heenan climbed to the top, while the rest of us investigated it.

Phot and Caption Gordon – “Arthur at the top”.


Photo and Caption John – “Ready to go again”.

Not sure where the Cook’s name comes from, no doubt there’s an interesting story as to how this rock got its’ name.
A short walk from Cook’s Head saw us back to the cars at approx. 1.00 pm , having tramped 7.3km.
By 2.15pm we were at the Blackstone Cafe’ for post tramp analysis, the usual banter, and socialising.

Photo and Caption Helen – “Enjoying everyone’s company after a satisfying tramp”.

A special thanks to Arthur Heenan for providing Dave Roberts and myself with directions, an aerial photo of the area, and advice along the way during the tramp.

19. 5/2/2019. Both. Cooks Head. Farm walk. Took Mouth. Return beach. M. Leaders: Arthur H. and Lester.
It was a 50 minute drive for the 7 cars transporting our group of 31 Trampers and Hikers (combined), to reach Chrystalls Beach which is out at the coast from Milton.
A rather chilly wind coming up the coast greeted us, so it was jackets or windbreakers on. A semi-sheltered pine plantation was our morning tea stop – in the sunshine.

Morning tea in sun out of the wind. (Gordon pic and caption.)

A little later, as we passed the cowshed on the dairy farm, a light shower arrived necessitating sheltering in the lee of some trees for 5 minutes.

A shelter-belt of trees on our left gave good shelter as we walked down the farm lane in a southwest direction.

Eventually we crossed the last paddock and negotiated the two-wire electric fence (turned off, thankfully) to arrive on the bank of the Tokomairiro River, and followed it to the sea.

Part of Toko township. (Gordon pic and caption.)


Jim and Keith comparing sticks or contemplating the distance to China. (Kevin pic and caption.)

The wind had eased somewhat by now, and it wasn’t quite as cold. After a rest stop we began the Beachwalk on the return part of our circuit, but now with the wind coming from behind it was much more pleasant.

Heading off along the beach. (Gordon pic and caption.)

After about half a kilometre we stopped to eat our lunch at the top the beach. It was low tide, and the surf was endlessly roaring.

Lunch on the beach. (Gordon pic and caption.)

No lingering over lunch, and then onward again. Chrystalls Beach is not a particularly pleasant beach to walk on because the coarse sand does not pack down hard. Nevertheless the group made good time up the beach, with the only thing of note being, sadly, the dead body of a very young Little Blue Penguin.

Heading off to Captain Cooks Head Rock. (Gordon pic and caption.)

All were very glad to reach Cooks Head, to have a breather in its shelter …

The Rock. (Gordon pic and caption.)

… while admiring its volcanic origin.

The rock makeup. (Gordon pic and caption.)


(Kevin pic.)

Strangely no one wished to climb to the top today.

Will we climb it or not? (Gordon pic and caption.)

A short walk through the sand dunes, and on the road soon had us back at the cars, having covered just over 9 km for the day.

We had had only the one shower during our tramp, but there had been rain inland, and it was raining at Milton as we travelled homeward.

A refreshment stop was made at Waihola, before arriving back in Mosgiel at 3 p.m. – Art.

18. 21/9/2016. Trampers. Cooks Head. Farm walk. Took Mouth. Return beach. M. Leader: Arthur H.
We had a day at the beach.
Seven trampers left Mosgiel at 9.00 a.m. and travelled for 50 minutes to reach Chrystalls Beach, which is out at the coast from Milton.
After parking behind the beach, we walked back up the road we had just descended, – “Irishmans Road”. The overcast sky was beginning to show some blue patches now, the day becoming quite sunny.
An easterly breeze was coming in from the sea, and was noticeably cool. We had dropped Helen off at the top of the hill to find us a sheltered morning tea spot. The rest of us were nicely warmed up by now, and morning tea in the sunshine was most welcome.

Onward we walked, and were soon on one of the lanes of the daily farm. Downhill towards the cowshed …

Towards Toko Mouth. (Helen pic and caption.)

Towards Toko Mouth. (Helen pic and caption.)

… and then followed the main farm lane heading south.

The lanes were dry, and perhaps not too interesting themselves, but it was a pleasure to walk through the farm and enjoy the colour of the fresh spring grass. We had passed the large mob of dairy cows soon after leaving the cars, grazing in their paddock beside the road.
Eventually we came to the end of the lane, and crossing one paddock, arrived at the bank of the Tokomairiro River. Under the electric fence and along the specially cleared track through the gorse and we were at the water’s edge.
We could look across at the Toko Mouth houses as we followed the river for half a kilometre or more to the mouth.

It was getting close to low tide, but just a little early for lunch, so we began  the beach walk, coming to our dining seat before too long. A nice smooth log was perfect, plenty of room for all of us to sit side by side while munching away happily – like a row of birds on a wire.

H-114941Lunch on beach. (Helen pic and caption.)

H-114941Lunch on beach. (Helen pic and caption.)

We could watch the endless waves breaking on the beach and listen to the surf. Sea birds were noticeably absent, however.

Lunch over, we resumed our northward beach walk. The sand conditions were rather trying (and tiring), being a bit soft to walk on. It is about 3.5 km along the beach, and all were glad to eventually reach “Cooks Head” rock.

Rock and then close up. (Helen pic and caption.)

Rock and then close up. (Helen pic and caption.)

Time was taken to inspect the volcanic formations, similar to the “organ pipes” near Mt Cargill, which form the rock. Two were keen enough to climb to the summit …

Arthur and Eleanor on top of Cooks Rock. (Janine pic and caption.)

Arthur and Eleanor on top of Cooks Rock. (Janine pic and caption.)

… and admire the view.

The view. (Arthur pic.)

The view. (Arthur pic.)

The others were content just to watch.

Ten minutes more and we were back to the cars soon after 1.00 p.m. Not a long tramp, at around 10.5 km overall.
An historical note – In 1907 a French sailing ship, the Marguerite Mirabaud ran aground in fog on Chrystalls Beach. No lives were lost and the cargo was auctioned off behind the beach after being recovered. The sea broke up the ship though.

On the way back to Milton we stopped to inspect the sign erected by the Milton Rotary Club on the roadside, to mark where Richard Pearse had lived for 10 years from 1911.

Sign. (Arthur pic.)

Richard Pearse Sign. (Arthur pic.)

He is credited by some as flying a powered aircraft in 1902 or 1903,  before the Wright Brothers.

The cars then made an essential stop at Waihola on the homeward journey. All seemed to have enjoyed their day at the beach. – Arthur.
17. 19/3/2014. Trampers. Cooks Head, Chrystalls Beach, Toko Mouth, farm walk return. Easy.
 Chrystalls Beach to Toko Mouth & farm walk was the destination for our outing this week. Quite a few of the six who turned up had not done this before, so it was especially enjoyed by them. This time, to make it a bit different, I decided that we would do the trip in reverse, so walked back up the road to the farm house, where we were met by a overfriendly young dog that wanted to follow us, so we tried tying it up, but it went absolutly berserk, so we had to untie it, & really growl at it to make it stay at the house.
There has been quite a change to the look of the farm, with new roads, & the top paddocks bare of vegetation, but the lower paddocks are still the same. We had a lunch break …

Lunch break (Ken pic and caption)

… along the beach a bit from Toko Mouth, then walked along to Cooks Head & inspected …
Cooks Head rock formation. (Heb pic and caption)

Cooks Head rock formation. (Heb pic and caption [Ed note: on the seaward side of the ‘Head’])

… the rock formations, before walking back to the cars.
The weather was very nice all day, with bright sunshine, & mostly calm conditions, which was enjoyed by all. – Ken.
16. 25/9/2013. Trampers. Cooks Head, Chrystalls Beach, Toko Mouth, farm walk return. Easy.
Chrystalls Beach Circuit. GPS of route courtesy Ken.

GPS of route, courtesy Ken. Chrystalls Beach, Toko Mouth, farm, circuit.

On a day that looked threatening weather wise, 5 of us travelled to Chrystalls Beach, & after parking the cars away from some loose wandering cattle, we made out way across to Cooks Head where we had morning tea.
Morning Tea stop in the shelter of Cooks Head. (Ken pic)

Morning tea stop in the shelter of Cooks Head.

Then we rugged up for the very windy walk along the beach to Toko Mouth. The sand was just as soft & hard to walk on as I remembered it from last time I was there.
We had a regroup around the corner of the Toko estuary out of the wind, then made our way along there to the point where it is possible to climb through the gorse, & up onto the farm paddocks. It was then a case of deciding which way to go to find the big hay shed where we had lunch the last time. After locating this we walked along the muddy track to where our route turned off into the paddocks, to head back up to the top road again. We had lunch out of the wind, hunkered down behind a large stack of trees that the farmer had torn out of the ground, & stacked up in piles along the new fence line. After lunch, it was just a matter of walking back up the slope that leads past the house on the property, & then along the roads back to the cars.
We all agreed that it was a good walk, despite the wind, & the very occasional light spot of moisture.

15. 14/7/2010. Cooks Head, Chrystalls Beach, Toko Mouth, farm walk return. Easy. Leaders: Ian, Ken.
Because of low tide at 11.00 a.m., we walked the beach first for the first tiime instead of doing the tramp the more usual other way round. So it happened that we came upon Cooks Head from the north instead of the south and discovered a cave we had never noticed before.

And with the tide at a glorious low, it was no trouble inspecting the seaward side of the ‘Head’.
After morning tea at Cooks Head, it was the long beach walk to Toko mouth, some of the sand a strong orange colour, and other parts a firmer white. As you can see, it was a lovely sunny day.

We returned back up the farm, following its ridge until we reached the house just below the high point of the tramp on Irishman Road. Here Bill stopped to patiently get the following two birds in their best pose.

Then it was just down the road to join the cars at the bottom. A great day and a great turn-out. – Ian.
14. 20/5/2007. Toko Mouth, Cook Head, Chrystalls Beach. Medium. Leaders: Ian, Diane G

Tea Break. Identifiable: Doug M, Margaret S, Les S


13. 2/2/2005. Both. Chrystalls Beach. Leaders: Bill M, Jim & Thelma

The Rock

12. 9/4/2003. All. Both. Chrystalls Beach. Medium. Leaders: Claude, Wendy B, Lance and Lois.
11. 28/11/2001 Chrystals Beach. Medium. Leaders: Les and Margaret S, Bev H
10. 14/6/2000  Chrystalls Beach – Toko Mouth. Leaders: Claude, Elaine, Lex
9 20/10/1999 Toko Mouth. Leaders: Nelson, Arthur & Barbara
8. 3/3/1999. Chrystalls Beach. Leaders: Judy C, Jean, Frank.
7. 23/9/1998. Toko Mouth Beach walk. Leaders: Nelson and Dot.
6. 3/9/1997. Chrystalls Beach. Leaders: Les and Margaret, Ian. Leaders: Les & Margaret, Ian
5. 24/1/1996 Tokomairiro River. Easy+. Leaders: Shirley, Pat, Molly
4. 18/1/1995. Chrystalls Beach. Easy. Leaders: Graham & Doreen, Rob C, Shirley
3. 2/3/1994 Toko Mouth. Easy Leaders: Denise, Jack & Rosemary, Diana B
2. 31/1/1990 Chrystall’s Beach. Average. Interesting south coast. Leaders: Ria L, Judy, Ria d
1. 3/3/1989 Leaders: Rob C, Jean A, Frank

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