The spectre of Rena still haunts the Bay of Plenty-Coromandel coastline, more than six months after the container ship struck the Astrolabe Reef on October 5.
Storms have come and gone, each one wrenching more oil, debris and cargo from the remains of the 47,000 tonne shipwreck.
A mako taking a bit of tuna with his noodles.
This week, SunLive voyaged down the coast following the latest storm, to document the effects on the coastline north of Waihi, which until last week had remained relatively unscathed.
Vicious south easterlies and big swells in recent weeks meant it was the Coromandel’s turn for a dose of Rena-vitus.
Noodle packets, timber, battered containers, rotten meat, plastic pellets and oil-infused seaweed were among the debris splattered along the eastern Coromandel seaboard, as Rena’s twisted hulk yielded more.
Locals at Matapaua Bay were shocked to find their pristine patch of coastline littered with debris. Moving south, stacks of timber stood as monuments to the good work of locals and salvors working to clean up the beaches and rocky outcrops – all the way from Hot Water Beach to Whangamata and Orokawa Bay.
Every piece of coastline featured Rena debris, large and small and a well-organised clean-up effort was underway.
Dead bird afloat, six nautical miles west of Mayor Island.
On the fringes of the blue water clear of Mercury Bay, the presence of Rena debris was evident. Ranging from large pieces of timber to the smallest pieces of plastic, the sea was punctuated with rubbish over a sixty mile stretch of water from the Hole in the Wall to Mayor Island.
Occasionally a dead seabird, or one unable to take off, indicated that the oil threat was still taking its toll.
Sharks seemed overly present, adding to the folklore that the Rena burley trail is attracting plenty of attention from all levels of the foodchain.
Timber stacks on the beach, between Hot Water Beach and Boat Harbour.
One followed up a tuna on a lure behind our boat, carefully chewing pieces off until only the head and hook remained; the shark clever enough to know the difference between a free feed and a quick death.
Not an everyday occurrence, which left us wondering if the Rena really has boosted shark numbers in the Bay of Plenty and Coromandel this summer.
The salvage barge Bradywine was moored off an isolated bay between Hot Water Beach and Boat Harbour, ready to receive the stacks of debris on the beaches prepared to be cleared.
Barge vessel Brandywine moored between Hot Water Beach and Boat Harbour.
Keeping a constant lookout for debris, the Coastguard reminded us at regular intervals what to do, should we come across a drifting container.
In the back of our minds is the realisation that we’ve been living with the scourge of Rena for months now – and it’s not going away any time soon.
We made it easily to Mayor Island for a peaceful night in paradise, with a few timbers still on the beaches, and a shag that couldn’t fly, to remind us that Rena will be with us for a long time to come.