Monday, June 06, 2016
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!)
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.
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!
Sunday, February 07, 2016
Tuesday, January 26, 2016
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.
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.
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
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!