adversity Birds Landscapes Light Pahaoa Rivers Weather

January 10, 2015 … wild and dry

These mystery trips are a lot of fun.

Clear blue sky, and pasture that is closer to brown than green.

Mary prepares a great picnic lunch and then we drive to some undisclosed location. Yesterday we went to Pahaoa which I am certain 97.5% of New Zealanders have never heard of. It is a location without a township at the mouth of the Pahaoa River in the Wairarapa coast line. Heading East from Martinborough, we were soon in spectacular landscapes, though they were all showing signs of impending drought.

Poisoned pines

Not all of the suffering vegetation is caused by drought. This stand of dead pine trees is almost certainly the result of deliberate poisoning, perhaps as part of a programme to eradicate wilding pines. As you can see, the sealed road has been left behind, and the dusty gravel leaves a cloud of dust that lingers long after any passing vehicle. Fortunately, there are very few passing vehicles. This is a wild and lonely road.

Dry river
In winter the river can flow bank to bank. Now it seems to be a series of interconnected ponds

Though the road distance is about 43 km the driving time from Martinborough is estimated by Google Maps as 63 minutes. This is a result of steep hills and tight winding roads. Having a photographer in the car doesn’t help either.

Greenfinch watches us at lunch

Yesterday was a day of clear blue skies, little wind, and temperatures around 30 degrees C. At Pahaoa there are some open spaces, but no facilities for visitors and no obvious shelter. We found a tree on the riverbank, and set up our chairs in its blessed shade. We ate our lunch and enjoyed the joyful song of the grey warbler overhead. I couldn’t see the warbler in the dense foliage but the greenfinch posed obligingly.

The spit at Pahaoa

Across the river, is Glendhu station with its dry brown hills and at the spit by the river mouth, a limestone outcrop. Dotterels and other shorebirds were plentiful though the lack of shade made it almost impossible to sneak up on them.

The flow is low but there is still some life in the river

One of the fascinating things about an out-and-back trip such as this is just how different the landscape looks on the return journey.

Dry landscape

The land got more amenable to farming as we got nearer to Martinborough but it was no less dry.The occasional green paddock spoke of irrigation from a dwindling river flow. This is a journey I shall attempt again, but perhaps without putting my dear wife through the long delays as I set up for various shots  on the way.

It was a trip worth doing.