Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Taranaki Sojourn

I had several days in New Plymouth last week, and have made a Flickr Album of some photos.  I may or may not get around to a proper blog post later ;-)

Sunday, July 03, 2016

Weekend in Palmy

This weekend was a Palmy stay-cation... Saturday saw me walking along the 'far end' of the river pathway for a change, from the carpark by the motor camp, down just past Waitoetoe Beach. It was 5.2km Strava tells me, so a good stretch for the legs.

 The water in the river was flowing quickly and it was quite full after recent rain, carrying plenty of sediment.
 The path had a good smattering of walkers on it, many of them with dogs. With the black skies ahead of me, I was expecting to encounter rain somewhere along the way- but I was lucky.
 There was a new sculpture acknowledging the history of the Rangitane people in this locality. The plaque told of a nearby lagoon which was used for fishing, but that has long been drained.

 Across the river along the other bank, you can see evidence of the new shared path they are constructing, that will mean people are able to cycle/walk all the way out to Linton on a separated path. I am so happy these paths are being developed, and I am sure I will be out on my bicycle more often again soon!

This side-track leads down to Waitoetoe Beach, which seems like a peaceful place albeit a bit on the wild side. Today my eye was drawn to the darker layer in the cliff face, and I wondered whether that dated from a distant volcanic eruption, or how else it might have been formed.

The track continues to come out near Panieri Park, and there is a toilet block there if you want to use it- wharepaku.

 In this photo you can see the pile of limestone chips that is ready to be laid on the track on the other side of the river.

Today I had a quick expedition downtown and wandered in part of the Square. This blue building is Square Edge, and was the PNCC building in a former life. It had a gentler colour scheme for many years, with a beautiful mural on it. I was sad to see that disappear, and it took me some time to accept this new, more vibrant colour scheme. But I actually appreciate it now, and it does look good with blue skies behind.
 Right next door is All Saints Church. This is currently closed until they do major earthquake strengthening. It has a similar brick construction to church buildings that failed in the Christchurch quakes, and we have a large chance of a similarly large quake centred near here one day.
 And just to finish off, here is a winter tree in the Square. The skies might be blue, but the air was somewhat chilly, and despite a 'delayed arrival', it is definitely wintertime here now.

Arrivederci from a Palmy winter!

Monday, June 06, 2016

Manawatu Country Road -QB weekend

Our Queen’s Birthday weekend has brought a dose of glorious winter blue skies, and it was a good time to take my new car, LaBleue, out for a wee roadie into the Manawatu countryside. When you think of Manawatu, you possibly think ‘floodplains, flat’- but there is  actually a lot of variation in the scenery. I used the Manawatu Country Road brochure and headed out on my QB version of the various roads and options on the map.

First I decided I needed to leave Palmerston North by a slightly different route from normal, so instead of driving straight to Feilding first, I headed towards Ashhurst, then took roads through Hiwinui and Colyton. (And I passed the schools in both settlements, neither of which I had seen before, despite my many years of teaching in this area!)

As I neared Ashhurst, you could see fog spilling out of the Gorge, but not dimming the blue skies on this side of the Gorge. I think they have seen quite a lot of fog there this weekend, while we have fortunately basked under sunshine and blue skies.

From Hiwinui, I drove along a ‘mini rollercoaster’ and also saw lots of serious cyclists. This countryside is made for them! The hills leveled out and I was on flatter land again near Colyton, and through Cheltenham. There were some glorious autumn tree colours en route. All along the way I passed interesting farm sheds, and I stopped to take photos of quite a few! There were also transformers and power poles that looked duly stark against blue skies.

Kimbolton has a grand welcome for those driving along this scenic route: there is a brand new set of toilets. Plus there are some beautiful old buildings, and the Domain looks impressive with its autumn trees.

North of Kimbolton I was definitely back into hill country and winding roads. The view from the Apiti lookout was striking, and I often caught glimpses out to Ruapehu on my left- though it wasn’t easy to pull over anywhere and take a photo.

I nearly took the Peep-o-Day route by accident- and perhaps one day I will return to do this when I go to visit my friend Hayley not far south of Ohingaiti. I carried on as far as Pemberton Corner- not far short of Rangiwahia- and read all the historic plaques there about an early settlement that has long disappeared.

Then I headed across on Mangomako Road, planning to come out on SH1 just south of Ohingaiti. I was expecting to be driving an unsealed route here, but it was sealed all the way. There was the bonus of emerging up high to see the Rangitikei River below.

 I crossed the bridge and found myself briefly in the Rangitikei region. Had a bit of drama as a black steer crossed the bridge behind me. When I stopped to take photos I found myself stepping smartly back to my car to avoid it, but then it stopped to munch grass contentedly on the verge. I decided the best thing to do was ring *555, and hope it is now safely ‘home’.

At Mangaweka I turned off SH1 and discovered a whole ‘old’ main street, that some people are clearly making efforts to rejuvenate. Mangaweka is hedged in close to the hills though, and in some ways it seems ‘wild’, as if it has borrowed a bit of time from the surrounding bush that is now sneaking in to reclaim it.

For all of the brief time that I was in Rangitikei, I felt as if I had taken forbidden egress out of the Manawatu- and as if I was some kind of illegal immigrant into Rangitikei! But just north of the town I turned off SH1 to the right, and rejoined the Manawatu Scenic route, just over the historic Mangaweka Bridge, which also crosses the Rangitikei River. One day I will come back and explore more of the Kawhatau back roads that I bypassed.

At Ruahine I diverted down to see the “Dress Circle” which I had heard about many years before. There was a pretty little waterfall, but somehow I has imagined something much more dramatic. Take care if you decide to come down here:- the road to the picnic area was a little muddy and you could get stuck some days.

It didn’t take long to reach Rangiwahia, where I ate the lunch I had brought with me, belatedly, before heading eastwards in towards the ranges, on the road towards Apiti.
But just before I reached Apiti, I turned eastwards again to follow the road down the Pohangina Valley East route. This whole eastern route was wonderful- with many ups and downs between bluffs and valleys that gave some great views.

I will have to come back and explore more...  In the middle of ‘nowhere’ I suddenly passed the Komako Church. And I realised that I was passing Totara Reserve, which I had always thought was on the other side of the Pohangina Valley. Really, it is well past time I visited there!

At Raumai I found myself back on the main Pohangina Valley road, and was soon home again in Palmerston North. I had been blessed with winter sunshine all day- and have lots of ideas for further exploration back in these hidden parts of Manawatu.

I took lots of photos as the sunshine was beautiful and the skies were so blue. There is a selection here on this Flickr album. Hopefully it won't be too much longer before I have more to report from another local roadie!

Manawatu Country Road

Yesterday I took a 'roadie' in the Manawatu to try out my new car... Here is a Flickr album of some of the photos I took on a beautiful calm winter's day with blue skies and cool temperatures. I might get around to a blog later!

Sunday, February 07, 2016

South Island photos

OK so I took a whole heap of photos on my South Island road trip. Here's a huge selection here in my Flickr album

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Back in the Manawatu Gorge

I am firmly back on home turf now, and have been doing quite a bit of swimming in the heat. But I have also been back on the Manawatu Gorge track- a beloved place for many of us who live nearby.

Today I arrived mid-morning, and it was already quite warm. The skies were blue, and the sun was gleaming on the water. I've come here other times when the cold wind has been whistling through the Gorge, and I have donned several layers of clothing just to leave the carpark- but not today.

I walked the Tawa Loop Track- which is rich in nikau palms.

It's good to see some berries here. There has been pest control going on, that hopefully has reduced the numbers of possums that I guess might eat these treats.

There are of course many tall thick tawa trees- with a few purple berries showing on the ground at present- I hope kereru are eating some of those. And many tree ferns that sometimes stand with their frond patterns revealed in the light on a day like today.

One thing about walking at home is that you have some 'history' with the place. A lot of work has been done to make this track more accessible to many more walkers. There are footbridges, seats, steps.
I do remember walking here when you clambered over rocks to come up this small stream, some of them quite tall for my short legs, so that I was glad of someone's hand to haul me up. I loved those 'adventures' on rougher land- but I know I wouldn't be still walking this track now if it was still 'tricky'. I am thankful for the work that has been done to make this a track that more of us locals can use.
This is the view from Tom's Lookout on the Tawa Loop part of the track. If you look closely you might just see the ribbon of the Manawatu River on the flat plain. And when you have lived here a while, you might have met Tom. There is a seat here where you can catch your breath, and sit and admire the view.

But even on a track I know quite well, there are still surprises each time. Often it is the way the sunlight catches fern fronds or spiderwebs, that takes my eye. But today one special surprise was the way a fern leaf was reflected in the small moving stream. The photo doesn't really capture it- but the fern reflection was 'shimmering' as the water moved.

So that was today's walk. Next time the light and weather will make it a different walk, and I will meet different people along the track. But for today, I headed straight to the swimming pool after this swim, glad to cool down a little!

Thursday, January 14, 2016


I have arrived in Christchurch on the homeward leg now, so both my camera and myself are in wind-down mode. But here are a few last photos.

These are some of the water-lilies in the pond at the Cloud9 camping ground where I stayed, just north of Hokitika.

This morning I was up early for my drive back to Christchurch, and was surprised to catch sight of some weka.

I went to get my camera, and next minute a majestic Kotuku flew in and landed beside the pond. Breath-taking.

I didn't even try and take many photos of the mountains today: they are too immense for the camera.

Cloud hung low on the western side of Arthur's Pass, and then there was some light rain until Otira.

But from there on the skies were very clear, and the mountain views were beautiful. I just took this photo at Bealey's Bridge, not far after crossing the pass. I had gone from the Taramakau in the west, to the Waimakariri in the east.


Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Around Hokitika

Today was a bit of a 'wind down' day, and I never ventured far from Hokitika, though I still seem to have a heap of photos! It was a drizzly rainy kind of morning to start with, which gave me an excuse to stay in my tent for far longer than normal, reading and dozing. Then I headed off into town to look at the shops, a 'first' for this holiday...

First place I passed was the Catholic Church, which catches the eye as you drive through, but it has actually been closed for several years because of the earthquake risk it poses.

As I walked down a street in Hokitika I noticed some random greenstone paving. If you've got it, flaunt it I guess!

I walked around a bit of the historic Quay, and saw the old Custom House.

And the bridge stretched across the river, wide like so many of these rivers with glacial origins seem to be in the South Island.

One shop I looked into was an interesting rock/ ironwork shop in the historic Bank of New South Wales.

I thought of you Michèle, especially when the owners told me that a man doing historic walking tours often brings people inside, and reads them an excerpt from the Luminaries.

Down on the beach I took a photo of the driftwood sculpture that everyone heads for. It's a clever social media strategy to advertise the town really!

By now the sun had started shining more, and I was too hot in my morning's choice of clothing. The advantage of camping is that I had alternative options in my car, then once changed I headed off for the Hokitika Gorge. For some reason I thought the gorge was only a few kilometres out of town, but it was nearly 30. But what great countryside the road passed through, with hills and clouds looming, and farms, and trees.

When I reached the village of Kowhitirangi, I saw one of the loveliest little churches I have seen, constructed of river stones.

I noticed a monument down the road, and assumed it was a war memorial - but it turned out to be a memorial to policemen and home guards who lost their lives when a local resident went berserk with guns.

Before too long I had reached the Hokitika Gorge which is magnificent. The first bit of the walk to a viewpoint is suitable for wheelchairs. There was also a sign answering my question- 'Why is the water so blue?' And it turns out the answers are glacial rock flour and ice...

The bridge moved a bit so was a trifle scary! Not long past it was another lookout and some very large rocks where you could look upstream on the river or back to the bridge.

I started driving back to town, but saw some signs that led towards Lake Kaniere by an upper route. The first bit of the route was sealed and ran past farmland and towards hills. After yesterday's tour I was very aware that a major fault line was probably running not too far from where I was...

I ended up on a narrow, winding gravel road that ran through native forest. But there was nowhere to pull over for photos! The road I was on eventually arrived on the northern side of Lake Kaniere.

So, the end of my holiday is nigh upon me. Tomorrow I will drive up Arthur's Pass on the road back to Christchurch, then after a couple of nights with friends, I will head for Picton and the ferry home. Thanks for keeping me company on the journey!