The week since I last wrote, began and ended with rain, but somewhere in the middle, we got a real soft centre.
Mary and I had arrived in New Plymouth and settled into our rented house (my first Airbnb), but there was still intermittent rain. Meanwhile, I was reading of all the great waves I was missing back in Wellington. This got me to wondering what was happening at Cape Egmont, just a little way back down the coast. Despite the heavy cloud, we set out in the afternoon and were soon on the wild and rocky western coast of the North Island. Yes, there were waves, and a vicious offshore wind.
They weren’t as big as those reported in Wellington, but wonderful to watch anyway. And there were crazy people wind-surfing in these conditions, though a little to the side of the wildest conditions on the cape.
The next day, the sky began to clear, and as Mary was preparing our evening meal, I ducked out to catch a view shots of the mountain from a place that I knew would give me a clear view from base to summit. Alas, from that position, there were clouds obscuring the summit. I drove back into town along Devon street, and as I neared the base hospital, realised that the cloud was now further West and no longer in the way. I went up the hill to the hospital grounds and was rewarded with a full view of Taranaki as the day was coming to an end. I got my shot, but as I was about to pack up, I was “photo-bombed” by the Taranaki rescue helicopter backing out of its base to fly off and rescue someone.
Back at the house, Mary was about to serve dinner when I realised I had a pretty good view through the dining room window, and that the trees and clouds added a little drama. Look at the rosy tint on the snow.
On Sunday, we set out to visit Dawson Falls which is a visitor centre high on the mountain, near Stratford. A little to the South of Midhirst, we left the main road and drove along Monmouth Rd to Pembroke and then on to Cardiff. Obviously some homesick expatriate was dreaming of his native Wales when giving European names to the localities hereabouts. Ignoring the fact that they all had perfectly serviceable Maori names, they also ignored the wild mismatch between the place and its namesake. I would guess that there are fewer than a hundred people here, compared with 340,000 in the Welsh city. But our one has the mountain.
At the edge of the nearly perfectly circular park which surrounds the nearly perfectly circular mountain, there was a lovely view of the mountain, showing Fantham’s peak which, from this side, spoils its symmetry. The snow-line seems a long way up, so we ignored the sign saying chains were mandatory, in the erroneous belief that we wouldn’t be up that high. There was snow in the car parks and most of the walking tracks were closed because of recent weather. But, as you can see, it was a flawless day.
From the lookout platform near the visitor centre there was a view across the 136 km to the mountains in the centre of the island. From left to right, the three snow-capped summits are Tongariro, Ngauruhoe, and Ruapehu.
We came back down to the plains below, and knowing that the road was just 15 minutes longer, headed back round the Western side of the mountain. After a pleasant picnic lunch in Opunake, we carried on towards New Plymouth. We paused again at Cape Egmont where this time, no cloud obstructed the view and I could get the lighthouse and the mountain in the same image.
And now we are home again and the rain is with us. Yesterday I followed the mist and clouds and went to the Hutt River near Te Marua and in splendid solitude, took this long exposure of the stillness. Birds sang, and rain dripped to the ground but otherwise, no noise. That’s all for now