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October 29, 2012 … skylarking about on Baring Head

“Clearing in the afternoon”, said the weather forecaster.

As we drove down the Wainuiomata Coast road to the entrance to our planned walk, the lowering clouds overhead threatened to make a liar of him. However we stopped in the car park at the entrance to the Baring Head section of the East Harbour Regional park. With two cameras on their slings and a tripod strapped to my back, and with Mary carrying our drinking water in her backpack, we crossed the Wainuiomata River and began the sharp climb up over the ridge. It’s fairly steep, but reasonably well-formed, and very quickly offered scenic views back up the valley, as well as a welcome excuse to pause and gather much-needed oxygen.Pencarrow Station on the Wainuiomata Coast Road side of the hill.

A mountain biker using his lowest “granny gear” climbed smoothly past us, but not very much faster than we were walking. His two companions were defeated by the grade and walked up behind us, pushing their bikes.

The lower Pencarrow LighthouseBeyond the crest, we saw views of Wellington that I had not seen before.  A little to the North of us the lower Pencarrow Lighthouse was visible, and across the water, behind it, Breaker Bay Rd climbs up towards the Pass of Branda.

Clouds were still there, grey and heavy, but places where the light broke through to illuminate stretches of water promised some possible landscape opportunities later. The road turned South and followed the curve of Fitzroy Bay below, taking us through steep open farmland. Sheep were grazing happily, but scuttled away as we approached. Across the Strait, the Interisland ferry Aratere emerged from the haze near Tory Channel and before long, was below us,  turning towards the harbour mouth.

Skylark (Alauda arvensis) in songSkylarks were a constant accompaniment to our walk. They pop up from their hiding place in the long grass and circle rapidly, singing joyfully as they gain height. They are hard to photograph at the best of times, since they move quickly, and are usually high above. In this steep hilly place they were sometimes low enough to capture on the camera, though a big crop was still needed to deliver a usable image.

At Baring Head, which is about one third of the way around the circuit if travelling anticlockwise, we paused while I set up the tripod for a landscape shot (I took several, but one will suffice here). Click to enlarge.Wellington's South Coast from Baring Head

The lighthouse itself is, like all other lighthouses in New Zealand fully automated, and the cottages where the keepers once lived are boarded up and neglected. Baring Head Light

On the way back to our start point, we watched the police launch, Lady Elizabeth IV, come growling up to inspect a small pleasure boat from which people were fishing. They usually inspect any fish caught to ensure that they are of legal size, and not in excess of the allowable numbers caught.  Police on fisheries patrol

Coming down the steep path which we had laboured up earlier, a young fly-fisherman, in hope of catching river trout caught my eye.

Trout fishing in the Wainuiomata RiverIf you are in the region with at least three hours to spare, and a good weather forecast, take some drinking water with you and explore this striking landscape.

I shall be back.


By wysiwygpurple

Retirement suits me well. I spend much of my time out making pictures, or at home organizing and refining my pictures.

This blog provides me with a platform from which I can indulge my passion for improving my photography and at the same time analyze my thoughts about what I have seen, where I have been and what is happening in my life. My images set out to be honest, but that does not mean I have not adjusted them. I use software to display what I saw though the viewfinder to best advantage. My preference is for landscape and nature, and is mostly centred around my hometown of Wellington, New Zealand.

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