Since my last post, Mary and I did a random “no-good-reason” day trip to Dannevirke. The day was beautiful, so we just went.
As soon as Dannevirke was mentioned, I decided to come back via the scenic route out to the East. This included a trip past the Waihi Falls which, though I have done it before, is always worth another trip. It was here, that things went wrong. I used Google Maps for navigation. I knew there was another road that would take us more directly to the falls without first going to Weber and Waione. It seems that there are two such alternatives, one of which was at least 35 minutes longer than the other. Just before the decision point, Google changed its mind about which route was labelled as quicker. So it was that we set off down Waitahora Road towards Coonoor Rd and then to Towai Rd and on to the falls. Apart from Skippers Canyon in Central Otago, I have not previously been on such a wild, lonely and ill-maintained road. The landscapes more than compensated.
As well as a view into New Zealand’s rural back yard, this accidentally taken road led us high into the hills from where there were great views. Mary was driving at the time and I got her to pull over whenever I saw an irresistible view which may have added a little to the length of the journey. I also had to make sure that, when I stepped out of the car, there was something on which to stand. Quite often there was a long steep drop to the valley below.
Waihi Falls were flowing well, with less brown sediment and a smaller volume of water than on our last visit. However, the sun was already low in the sky, and home was still 200 km away. I have said before that the back road from the falls to Masterton, though very scenic, is remarkably empty of people and settlements. Even the named towns seem to consist of a mould-covered and apparently disused community hall and little else. It was much later and darker than we planned when we finally got home.
We have had a run of seemingly endless damp weather, but perhaps it is warmer than usual because I am seeing signs of Spring everywhere. As well as apple, plum and cherry trees, there are lambs.
Daffodils are the unfailing sign of the new season and suddenly they are everywhere.
Yesterday, there was a change in the weather and instead of the rain we had mists and cloud. Mary said “go forth and photograph”. I went first to the upper valley, and that led me to the Rimutaka Hill where the road is often wreathed in tendrils of cloud in such weather. The problem with the hill road is that there are very few spots where you can safely stop, and almost nowhere to safely walk back to a viewpoint. The clouds were there, but were simply inaccessible. I carried on to Featherston, and thence down the Western side of Lake Wairarapa. It’s quite a large lake, but rarely does it have the cam surface I hope for. Yesterday was an exception, if only for a short while.
At the Southern end of the lake, the East-West Access road provides a route across the South Wairarapa and here and there are little scenic gems worthy of pausing and appreciating.
The access road crosses the Ruamahanga river diversion by way of the barrage system which provides flood control for the Southernmost part of the valley. The surface of the river was almost perfect in its stillness, despite the flow southwards towards Lake Onoke and the open sea. I went South from there to Lake Ferry Hotel. There I had an excellent whitebait fritter and a glass of beer, before turning for home into the teeth of a sudden downpour from the South.