Getting to the top of Te Mata Peak on a mountain bike is no mean feat.
I never could do it, but admired the ease with which the very athletic man we were driving behind was achieving it. At the top I set up a four-shot panorama looking to the West and North. If you are familiar with the Hawkes Bay you will see Havelock North immediately in front of the hill, with Hastings City out beyond that. Over to the right, Napier is on the Coast and Clive is just on the nearer side and that the river on the right emerging from behind the railing is the Tukituki. You may get the impression that the hill drops away very steeply almost 400 metres to the valley below.
This steep drop makes it a very attractive venue for the paragliding community who like to launch from the top of the hill. As we arrived there were four enthusiasts preparing to do exactly that. From here it may be imagined that the only way to go is down. It is not so. Within a few seconds of launching each of the pilots in turn was rising rapidly, and I could hear the rising and falling tone of their electronic variometers telling them when they were in lift or in descending air. I imagine that they were making good use of the wave lift over the hill, though the day was warm enough for there to be thermal activity as well. I was a bit surprised that the young woman in the picture was flying cross-legged. Anyway, there were soon a bunch of paragliders circling very high above us.
In the afternoon while Mary was doing the family visit, I was turned loose in search of birds or other subjects of photographic interest. In all honesty I was not very successful yesterday. I saw fewer bird species than I have in the past, mainly black swans and shags. On the wetlands just South of the Napier airport, there were hundreds of black swans still guarding their grey fluffy offspring. A few ducks and gulls mingled but nothing that I regarded as a photograph. A squawking from the long grass on the other side of the track alerted me to the presence of some Pukeko or swamp hens (Porphyrio porphyrio). I think I must have been near a nest because there was a heightened degree of alarm, and every so often a red-tipped periscope would peer above the grass to see where I was.
Another close encounter was with a yellow-hammer (Emberiza citronella) which clung to a dried fennel stalk and eyed me warily.
From there I went out to Westshore, crossed the apparently disused Gisborne railway line, and from the pebble beach, looked back towards the city. It was a magnificent blue day, with just a few clouds.
I am not sure what the temperature was, but there was a sufficient onshore wind to keep it pleasantly warm without going to extremes. Perhaps 26 degrees or so. The wind was sufficient to induce a great deal of movement in the seed heads at the top of the beach.
Back home now, more tomorrow.