Adventure Birds Cars Clive Family Hawkes Bay Lakes Landscapes mountains Napier Te Mata Peak

April 3, 2016 … road trip

Mary and I set out for a week in Napier,  We chose to take a back road because I had seen an image taken by a fellow club member of the Waihi waterfalls.

The limeworks at Mauriceville where there was once a Dairy factory

I had never previously heard of these falls, but from the South, they are most quickly accessed on SH52 through Mauriceville, Alfredton, Tiraumea, Pongaroa and Waione.  To be honest, most New Zealanders would need to use Google to find where most of those places are. Even after driving that route, I am still not sure I am any the wiser. Most of them seem to consist of a disused community hall. I had the sense of having driven through 92 km of deserted farmland. The scenery is beautiful but it seems empty.

Waihi Falls near Waione

The falls themselves are worth the journey. However, be warned that there is absolutely nothing else there. No commercialization, and the only facilities other than some reasonably formed paths are toilets and a shelter over some picnic tables.

Automotive graveyard tangle

We drove on towards Dannevirke, and on the Weber road, I spotted a car graveyard. It was fenced and heavily padlocked and chaotically overgrown with blackberry and other weeds. Unlike its better known counterpart at Horopito, there is no  visible semblance of order in this place, and in my opinion, no way of retrieving any of the rapidly decaying vehicles. On the other hand, many photographers of my acquaintance would sell their own body parts for unfettered access. My images were taken across the fence from the road side. We had lunch in a park in Dannevirke and resumed our journey to Napier, where we celebrated the 60th birthday of my brother-in-law, John.

Balls Clearing
A tiny glimpse of the magnificent Balls Clearing Scenic Reserve

On Tuesday, Mary and her youngest brother Gerry went hiking in the Kaweka range while I satisfied myself with lesser walks including the stunningly beautiful Balls Clearing Scenic Reserve near Puketitiri. This is a remnant of the podocarp forest that used to cover this entire area, and which was spared the axe by way of public petition to parliament and was finally made a public reserve as late as 1945. Many of the great trees in here are 600 years old.

From Puketitiri looking West to the Kaweka range

A little further on, closer to the Kaweka range, there was a lovely view over part of the Makahu station through which it is necessary to drive to get to the popular Mangatutu Hot Springs on the edge of the Mohaka River. We dined on venison from Makahu station that evening with Gerry and his wife, Vivienne before driving the remaining 50 km or so back to Napier.

From the top of Gentle Annie towards the Mountains. Ruapehu, Ngauruhoe and Tongariro are all visible.

On Wednesday we drove part of the “Gentle Annie” road from Napier to Taihape, and turned around after the steepest and most winding parts were over, and where we could see across vast open high country to Ruapehu on the horizon. If you look near to the right hand of the image you can also see the summit of Ngauruhoe peeking across.

Te Ngarue Stream at the foot of the Tangoio Falls track

On Thursday, we drove up to beautiful Lake Tutira which is presently toxic due to an infestation of blue-green algae. After a very nice lunch beside the lake, we returned towards Napier, but Mary was keen to walk the 4.5 km Tangoio Walkway, so I dropped her at the top of the hill and then drove to the bottom end of the walkway by the Te Ngarue Stream to wait for her.

Australasian shoveler at Clive

On our last day in Napier, I went looking for birds at Clive while Mary walked the 14 or so km from there to Havelock North on the magnificent walkway system throughout the bay. Among my captures was this handsome male Australasian Shoveler duck. Jimmy Durante would be proud of a nose like that.  I then drove to the end of the trail to collect Mary and we had lunch at the summit of Te Mata Peak.

That’s all for now.


insects Landscapes Light Napier sunrise Te Mata Peak Wairarapa Weather

May 19, 2014 … from perfect morning to grey overcast

Yesterday was the day we came home.

Napier panorama
The grand panorama from Sugar Loaf Hill in Taradale. The lump towards the left on the horizon is Bluff Hill with Te Mata peak on the right.

Before we left Napier, Mary spent some time with her mother and I was turned loose once again. It was a magically magnificent morning, clear blue sky, no wind, and a hint of winter crispness in the air. Totally beautiful. Since I was in Taradale, and had a limited time, I chose to trudge up Sugar Loaf hill. The approach from the East is short and brutally steep for one so unfit as I am. With many pauses to look back at the landscape unfolding behind me, I eventually made it, gasping, to the trig station at the top. There, I took the eight images that were stitched together to make this panorama.

Te Mata Peak and Havelock North from Taradale

The air was spectacularly clear except in the direction of the recently risen sun. The obvious solution is to look in another direction, so the next image from that delightful hilltop looks across the plains to Havelock North and Te Mata Peak.

Mission vineyards
Across the vines at Mission to Westshore. Morning mist lingers

In the opposite direction and far enough around to avoid the sunstrike, we look across the vineyards of the Mission Winery. If you look down in the lower right hand corner you can see some of the plane trees lining the driveway  which featured a few days ago.

feral bee
Honey Bee on Magnolia

Back at the rest home, I was waiting for Mary and spotted a honey bee (Apis mellifera) wandering about on the blossoms of a small magnolia shrub. Sadly the feral honey bee is a rarity now, so it was a delight to see a few in the garden here.

Northern Wairarapa … just before we got to the uglier weather

My last image from yesterday was taken on a side road just North of Woodville. We had been driving in perfect conditions until Dannevirke, and suddenly heavy clouds appeared. We decided to enjoy a lunch break in the last shafts of bright sun. Happily the ugly weather was confined to the Northern Wairarapa and it cleared again by the time we reached Carterton.

Home at last, and reunited with my big lens, and getting to know the replacement camera.



Aviation Birds Clive Hastings Landscapes Napier Te Mata Peak

January 12, 2014 … no goatherds up here

Getting to the top of Te Mata Peak on a mountain bike is no mean feat.

From Te Mata Peak
With the Hawkes Bay spread out before me

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.

A few seconds earlier she was quite a way below us

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.

Pukeko on guard
The periodic raising and lowering of the “periscope” from different locations was comical to watch

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.

I hoped it might have been the much rarer Cirl Bunting, but I am reasonably sure it is the yellow-hammer

Another close encounter was with a yellow-hammer (Emberiza citronella) which clung to a dried fennel stalk and eyed me warily.

Looking South to Hospital Hill from a deserted section of beach North of Westshore
Napier is a pretty city

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.

Windswept grasses
These are beautiful to watch, though I gather they are unwanted invasive species

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.