Chrystalls Beach & the Marguerite Mirabaud

Clutha District

A beach made of real crystals!!

A very remote beach just a little bit out of town. The highlight of it is the coarse, quartz-rich sand. The beach is always changing with the exceptionally rough tides constantly crashing upon it. New dunes and banks are created on a daily basis. The tidal sandbars block small creeks that flow over the dunes, giving rise to them very quickly, and thus making fun water slides of sorts. This is also the beach that took down the French ship called Marguerite Mirabaud on one fateful misty night. The ship ended up being auctioned off to all of the locals, bits and pieces of which are still evident among the local cribs.


The easiest way to get to this remote place is through Milton, South of Dunedin. Once in Milton, take Springfield Rd. near the famous 'kink' in the highway, through to Back Road. Take a left on Back Rd. Turn right onto Glenledi Road. Stay on it for about 10km. Most of it is on dirt. Glenledi Road comes to a split intersection: you can either take Irishmans Road to Cooks Head Rock...or... take Bull Creek Road to Crystals Beach road. Either way will take you to Chrystalls Beach.

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The fog of destruction

Akatore (now Chrystalls Beach) was a quaint, sleepy little settlement until one fateful foggy morning when French sailors crashed into their shore. It was the year 1907, February 17th. At 8am, Capt. J.M. Tattevin was at the wheel of an 84-meter-long barque. He had cleared the southern points despite thick fog and turbulent seas, but without warning struck ground about 30 meters off the beach. Mate Guihu was unsuccessfully sent to shore with a lead line that broke amongst the relentless waves. There were several attempts to disembark the stranded crew with more lines and little boats. The Captain was the last to leave the ship.

The Captain was the last to leave the ship. Thankfully, no lives were lost of the 24-man crew. The news of the shipwreck spread quickly throughout the local communities. It wasn't long until they were surrounded by spectators from as far away as Milton. The Frenchmen first made travel back to France. Then tenders were issued for the hull and cargo.

To this day parts of the ship are scattered around Otago. The mast is in a private shed at Chrystalls beach. The wheel is part of a gate to a crib at Bulls Creek. The bell is on display at the Otago Early Settlers Museum. Countless other items are in various homes in Milton and other seaside settlements.

Unfortunately, nothing is left in the rough ocean where the boat once sat -- just crashing waves and coarse-crystal sand. Text borrowed from various sources, including the book 'Rocks, Reefs and Sandbars' by Bruce E.Collins

Another tide, Another tale - Stu