Everyone has a special place in their hearts for their home town, be that a positive place or a hate-filled revenge plot kind of place not unlike the Bog of Eternal Stench. Over the years my feelings about the place I lived from ages 6 to 17 have lunged wildly between the two; sunny memories to murder spree.
My formative years were spent in Whakatane; a little town, in a little country, located on the arse end of the planet, millions of miles from anything (except Australia, but hey, who’s counting them?) Just over the hill from Whakatane township is Ohope Beach. A place where I played naked in the sand as a child, drank cheap shitty wine as a teen and had my first proper kiss. Albeit in a house off the beach but still, thanks Steven.
It’s also ridiculously beautiful.
A million or so years ago, dark volcanic sand began mingling with the classic golden variety to create a certain warm beige colour that I could never forget, even if I were never to set foot in the Eastern Bay again.
I have a million memories looking at this view, the crunchy crab grass, the red blasts of flowers in December from the numerous pohutukawa trees, ice creams eaten, dogs walked and dramatic drunk teen tears shed.
The toilet on the beach front at Ohope has been there since my first visit to NZ in 1985. I could ask my Nan when it was built but I doubt she’d be able to tell me. It has existed in that spot for a millennia in social parlance.
It’s not a pretty building. Squat and heavy, it’s made from classic 60’s-70’s breeze blocks and painted the nasty cheap shade of dusky red that was slapped about NZ in the years before pantone. The concrete is always flooded from the outdoor showers and dog water taps, making the approach muddy and showing off some pretty poor planning and architecture.
But in spite of all that, it’s gorgeous.
I mean, how’s the serenity?
It’s a basic build which has never been fancy, likely it never will be.
I’ve rated some fancy newer beach toilets such as Bethells and Piha with their have self-composting toilets, 100% recycled rain water flushes, and inbuilt sustainable native moss foot cleaners so you’ll never get sandy socks again (that last one was a lie but it would be great right?)
This toilet has none of those things. The fanciest it gets is a bench (bum splinters included), the most environmentally sustainable is that lack of any lighting beyond the sun sneaking in the “ventilation” holes along the roof edge.
But somehow none of that matters.
The best way to describe its beauty is with a series of pictures I took of the toilet paper dancing in the wind (*Ahem, getting a bit pretentious here Lucy? Perhaps I’m becoming a dewy-eyed romanticist).
I know it’s rough and I know it’s grungy but I love this little bathroom because somehow, after all my mixed childhood and teen experiences, being on this beach makes me feel calm. Really calm. It gives e a sense of centered safeness that I rarely manage out in the real world. The calm unquestioned safety of a bonny 6 year old playing in the sand with her beloved family and dog (RIP Rosie, you were the best damn dog ever).
Cleanliness: 5/10 It’s never really clean but I believe once in a while a dude with a high pressure hose will come in and spray the place down top to bottom, inside and out.
Interior: 5/10 Nothing special in there. You get a bench to put your clean dry clothes on while you get out of your wet sandy swimsuit, toilet paper and one sink with cold water. That’s about it.
Exterior: 9/10 I believe they lock it at night these days, but it has all the other positives I look for going for it. It’s very easy access with a car park directly adjacent, there is a constant stream of people coming and going so no one will be looking at you or really caring what you are doing in there if you need to shit/puke/panic and oddly enough, in spite of it being a very popular beach, I almost never see more than one person in or near this loo at any given time.
Safety: 9/10 It’s public enough to be safe but not so public you feel over-looked. Someone might nick your sunnies if you leave them on the bench long enough, but that’s about as bad as it gets. And honestly the likelihood is they took them by accident and will hand them in to the info center after a few hours to be collected after someone gives you a call asking if you lost something (everyone knows everyone in a small town so they might even drop them back at your Nan’s place with a sorry note and home baked loaf).
Snugglitude: ∞/10 Nuff said.
Total 28+ ∞/50