We are in the second half of the year now, and on the long slow haul through the worst months of our Southern winter. Mary and I are just back from a sudden trip to Whakatane in the Bay of Plenty to attend a funeral. There had been a lot of very heavy rain in the last few days so the landscape was looking clean and well washed.
Just North of Bulls is one of those frequently photographed derelict houses. The light and the sheep made it interesting to me on this trip.
But we were travelling with purpose, so I limited the stops, passing many fine opportunities and attempting to make a mental note to visit again when time was not pressing. Everyone who ever followed the Desert Road with a camera has probably taken a shot of Ruapehu, but despite having a bag full of such images already, the cloud around its mighty shoulders and the light demanded yet another try.
Google maps recommended that we turn off near Waiotapu and follow SH 38 around the Southern edge of Kaingaroa Forest and then turn North through Galatea, Matahina and Te Teko to emerge on SH2 at Awakeri. The idea had a lot of appeal, not least because there are fewer trucks on the narrow back country roads. Where the road crosses the Rangitaiki River at the top (Southern) end of lake Aniwhenua, the river was running fast and brown with the burden of the recent downpours. But beside the road on the South Eastern side of the bridge there was a flooded area, that I think is part of the lake only after such heavy rain. Though separated from the turbulent river by a few metres, the lake was a perfect sunlit mirror, reflecting its surrounds beautifully. The Ikawhenua range in the background was still wreathed in the heavy clouds.
Before we resumed our journey, I snatched a few shots, marvelling at the lake’s perfect stillness.
The funeral the next day was a wonderful tribute to Mary’s aunt, Natalie Ella Keen, a very gracious and talented lady now at peace. After a delightful if somewhat sad gathering with rarely seen family, we returned to the lovely farm cottage we had rented, And then the heavens opened. Listening to the hammering on the roof overnight, I began to wonder if the roads we had taken would be above the water when we returned the next day. So I determined that we would travel via Te Teko and Rotorua and thence down SH5 to Taupo and home from there.
It was a grey sullen day with a lot of heavy traffic, and being stuck behind trucks with thirty-four tyres pumping water off the road into the air is not fun. There was a break in the rain as we approached Lake Rotoma just after sunrise, so I paused and snatched a shot of the bush reflected in its still surface, From there it was unremittingly grey all the way home. From the desert road, the rain limited visibility to about a hundred metres in all directions. We got home safely.