“Glitch in the Matrix”: Kiwi Photographer Captures Whangamata’s Amazing Ocean Phenomenon

A Kiwi photographer has captured an incredible aerial photo of a tartan-style ocean wave that is being described by some as a “phenomenon”. Photo/Images by Jack Burden

A Kiwi photographer has captured an incredible aerial photo of a tartan-style ocean wave that is being described by some as a “phenomenon”.

Nelson’s man Jack Burden grew up visiting Whangamata as a youngster and decided to return to capture coastline footage.

But while sending his drone out to watch the sunset over Clark Island, he managed to capture the moment when the crossing waves crashed into a unique pattern.

Burden told the Herald that locals and vacationers often travel to Clark Island and are therefore curious to know what the waves crossing above look like.

“It’s a pretty special place for my family. When I was a kid, I remember walking across Clark Island and being battered by the cross waves at low tide up to my waist.

“When I finally got a drone, I had this idea to take a look and see what it looked like from above.

“The photo and the abstract pattern really touched people who experienced going to Whangamata and walking around the island.

“What struck me for the first time when I saw the back of the camera was how symmetrical the waves were. All gears seemed to work which adds to the image. I knew it was pretty special.”

Metservice explained that the pattern occurs when the swell comes from two different directions and is more common than people realize.  Photo/Images by Jack Burden
Metservice explained that the pattern occurs when the swell comes from two different directions and is more common than people realize. Photo/Images by Jack Burden

The image was posted on social media and has since gone viral, racking up over 50,000 likes and reactions.

Viewers around the world were stunned, with many saying they had never seen anything like it.

“What is this simulation problem?” one said. “It’s a problem in the matrix.”

Another added: “Fifty-six years old and nature amazes me and still surprises me…”

“Seeing wave interference on this scale is so cool you can literally see the constructive and destructive interference/peaks and dips,” wrote a third.

Some viewers worried that the water configuration would create dangerous currents.

However, Burden said thousands of locals and tourists pass through Clark Island each year and the water level is low.

“All kinds of people say how dangerous it is. But what people don’t realize is that the water is only knee deep and the waves aren’t much bigger.

“These cross waves happen in all directions and it depends on how offshore Clark Island is and how the swell wraps around it and comes back.”

So how is it going?

Metservice said the phenomenon is “not as rare as you might think” and described how the pattern forms.

“You just need a swell coming from two different directions, in this case 90 degrees to each other,” Metservice explained.

“Swell one = [northwest]. Swell two = [northeast].”

Metservice also explained that “perpendicular swells like this can create hazardous sailing conditions.”

This isn’t Burden’s first time capturing New Zealand’s stunning landscapes.

The photographer has traveled all over the country to share some of the most beautiful places in the country that many will never have the opportunity to experience in person.

• For more images of Jack Burden, click here.

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