The stony Raglan beaches were a foretaste of what the sand would be all down the west coast: Black. The colour varies from black in the south to lighter colours farther north. Black sand, or ironsand, comes mostly from Mount Taranaki, which is an andesitic (explosive) volcanic centre. Its dark colour is due to small grains of titanomagnetite which is a magnetic iron ore and is being mined offshore Taranaki coastline. The Taranaki Peninsula and surrounding sea also provides New Zealand with its only known commercial oil and gas fields … not to everybody’s liking, as I presume. Our couchsurfing hosts didn’t have a good thing to say about it. Quite on the contrary. But when you sit at one of these dark beaches with all the white shells and brown driftwood, it’s more than enjoyable, it’s perfect.