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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.