I may have driven in worse weather, but I can’t remember when.
As we went up the Desert Rd, visibility dropped. No mountains were seen, and in fact we saw nothing much beyond the sides of the road. We stopped at one of the many torrents of rushing water (in this case, the Oturere Stream) and I captured the moment while trying not to get too wet myself.
On down the long slopes towards Turangi and the visibility improved not one bit.
In Turangi, where we stopped to buy lunch. A most excellent steak, bacon and cheese pie was my choice, then the weather took a turn for the worse. A shrieking rain squall descended on us, as heavy as any rain I have ever seen. And then it was gone. A kowhai tree near the car park where we were eating was suddenly swarming with waxeyes. I speculate that the rain made the nectar in the blossoms more accessible.
From there to Rotorua was, by comparison, uneventful, with just occasional ordinary showers of rain. Our motel at Ohinemutu looked out over the lake, and the rain-washed scenery tempted us to walk along the lake-edge walkway to Sulphur Point.
I have never seen so many scaups in my life. We get them in ones or twos at home. Here there were hundreds of them, many of them asleep on the water. Little shags were plentiful too, and one in particular gave an excellent impression of a rebellious teen going through a punk phase.
As we strolled though a bushy part of the track, some waxeyes caught my eye, and I photographed one that I thought was carrying some nest-making material. When I got back to the computer, I realised that it was carrying dinner … a nice tree weta, ideal for someone on a high fibre diet.
Welcome swallows were present in large numbers, and their darting presence should have alerted me to the fact that there were millions of small biting insects around too. These are such fast and agile birds that I have yet to get a satisfactory shot of one in flight. This was the best I could do on the day.
On the other hand two of them posed prettily for me and reminded me why I want to catch that great in-flight shot.
By now the light was starting to go, so we strolled back through the Government Gardens (I have visions of hot-houses full of baby civil servants), where a bed of poppies snatched the last bright light of the day.
As I was making that shot I was almost run over by a hormonal pukeko with high hopes and low ambitions in hot pursuit of his lady-love. Or vice versa. Anyway, the pair of them disappeared at high speed over a hill in the park. I don’t know whether the pursuit was successful.
The weather was rubbish but what a great day.