Sunday, October 31, 2010


Today I took a wee post-exam 'tiki tour' over Tararua way, exploring a few places I had never been before- like Porangahau, Herbertville and Pongaroa. I have a few(!) photos I'd like to share: I'll split them into five posts, that will appear in 'chronological order'. Hope you enjoy the tiki tour!

I travelled all the way north to Waipukurau first, before heading off the main road to drive south-east on Route 52. I was quite surprised to see how much wetland was in the area, and I guess I was seeing it at its wettest after all the spring rains we had.

I arrived at Porangahau and chose to see the beach first, a few kilometres past the village. The weather couldn't quite decide on its mood, and the easterly winds had whipped the sea up, making the northern hills look very misty in the distance.

 Fortunately the drizzle decided to finish its playtime, and the sun came out, bringing out all the colours in the southern headland.

 After some dawdling along the beach, I drove back to the village, and decided to have a look at the pioneer church, St Michael and All Angel's Anglican Church, built in 1880.

And in a far corner of the church cemetery was this very rural memorial to soldiers in WW2.

Route 52- Genealogy

The route I had chosen for my tiki-tour- down Route 52 in the Hawke's Bay/ Tararua region- is still quite isolated, and must certainly have posed challenges for the first European settlers. I passed several places where modern descendants have paid homage to their pioneer ancestors.

This plaque on the church at Porangahau acknowledges Mary Ann Barratt-Foote.

And in the Porangahau church graveyard is this headstone for the Green family ancestors, hailing from Tollard Royal Wiltshire and Fontmell Magna Dorset in England.

 On the gate of the Porangahau church, is this plaque acknowledging the Lambert ancestors.

When I moved down to Herbertville, it became obvious how the village got its name, with this beachside plaque to the family ancestors.

From Porangahau to Herbertville

Next on the agenda was the journey from Porangahau to Herbertville. Navigating the rural roads was easy: I am now getting some use out of the GPS I bought for that trip to Hamilton I never made because of my broken arm in July.

Route 52 would seem to be an appealing route to take if you are a tourist- off the beaten track and away from busier roads, it lets you explore some more rural gems. It is still pretty 'laid back' but there are some signs that tourists are being catered for. I remember taking a 'tiki tour' many years back- quite a 'random' one without any real plan, and quite by chance I passed the place with the 'longest name'. I remember a basic yellow AA signpost that would have been easily missed. Now there is a much more obvious one!

Not much further along the road, I stopped to look at some cabbage trees - Cordyline australis- which were quite prolific in this area. And then these horses appeared and paid me some attention- not quite so easily able to ignore passing humans as their cousins in paddocks closer to cities can.

Here are a few more of the cabbage trees. The hills here look quite gentle and rolling: don't be fooled! This is prime 'earthquake' area, with the ground being regularly scrunched up as the Pacific and Australian plates do their 'meeting' nearby. Here are some recent ones reported in Geonet. And in 1990 there was a 6.2 quake centred near here that was one of the worst I have felt, strong enough even in Palmerston North to make holding onto the doorframe difficult as the floor bucked beneath me.

One final photo: I am a great fan of taking photos of some of the old rural buildings that you pass.


Second beach for the day was Herbertville, and here is the first view I had of it from the township, with yet another 'rural' building. I wouldn't mind a house in this spot myself......

And now I will just share three 'log' views along this beach.

 I loved the colours in the sky, threatening rain that never quite arrived.

And this branch frames another headland of the erosion-prone sedimentary rock on this coast.

And finally, it allows a different view of the ocean.

Both these beaches might see me back for another visit in the summertime....


By now, I had seen a lot on my tiki tour- but it was still quite a journey from the coast at Herbertville, back to Pahiatua through Pongaroa, then across the Pahiatua Track back to Palmerston North.

I was to see a lot of evidence of land slips in the next section of the drive, some of it from recent heavy rainfall, and some of it 'chronic'. There are unfortunately too many parts of New Zealand where the hills should never have been cleared of forest. I was glad to see some of the hills on the Pongaroa-Pahiatua Road seem to be being allowed to revert through scrubland back to forest.

 Near Waione I saw these 'rural' football posts. Who knows how many former All Blacks have been reared on such posts.

And in Pongaroa there was recognition of a 'local', Maurice Wilkins, who became a world renowned scientist and Nobel Prize Winner. (Interestingly, Sir Ernest Rutherford also hailed from a small rural New Zealand town.)

Pongaroa has obviously seen 'busier' times, and there were quite a few 'historic' buildings still there.

And here is the signpost in Pongaroa that points the way home....

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Down by the Riverside- again.....

A brief break for the swotting brain took me down by the riverside in the sunshine...

And with my brain full of ideas about angiosperms I find I keep looking and noticing floral details, and questions keep rising in my brain....

OK enough of the delay....... on with the swot!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Cordyline australis

Well, my exam for 'Flora of NZ' looms at the end of the week, so of necessity I am largely confined indoors on this public holiday. But hanging out the laundry this morning in the backyard, I noticed a prominent display of NZ flora- the endemic Cordyline australis - the native 'cabbage tree'- is coming well into bloom...... gorgeous against a blue sky!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Babies at the Lagoon

A fortnight ago I was at the Lagoon, and saw a few ducklings, and a coot on a nest. Today I needed a wee break from my exam study, and headed back there for another look-see.

 There were ducklings galore, of varied kinds and sizes!

 (One dear mother duck was even trying to keep eleven youngsters all in one place at the same time!) 
I wondered whether I would see the coot that I had seen sitting on a nest last time.

 I suspect indeed that this was the one, or its partner. There seemed to be a 'family group' with two parents and three young ones.

The adults were both very active, diving underneath the water repeatedly.

They came up with aquatic plants all over them, and then fed the young.

I wasn't sure quite what they were feeding them. Maybe when my exam is over I can look it up.... Meanwhile, back to the books... enough with these lovely distractions......

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Where do the ducklings go when it rains?

After so much sunshine, showers have arrived, but I decided to head off to the Lagoon anyhow to see if I could see some ducklings. I did wonder where they went when it drizzled. 

As I started walking, one of the first birds I saw on the grass was this Australasian coot. Strangely, I am not sure I have ever really noticed its feet before, and they seemed inordinately large.

And I had barely left this coot when I had the first answer to my wonderings about where the ducklings go when it rains: at least some of them huddle under a parent.

Not far past them I saw this group of young looking(?) females huddled together while showers fell. Maalie has since told me these are grey duck: you can check out more about them on this wonderful webpage.

Next, I discovered a coot nesting, on quite a public spot really, not too far from the water's edge.

  As far as I could tell, the young didn't seem to have hatched yet.

Finally, after all that excitement, as I followed the path along the water's edge, I discovered that some ducklings stay swimming with their mother when it rains.....

As I made my way back to the car when the rain got heavier, I noticed quite a few more sedentary birds, at least some of whom were hiding their huddled young beneath them on the grass. It was something I had never really noticed before....

Palmerston North Esplanade

I think that the Palmerston North Esplanade is one of the most under-rated city parks in the country. So many different corners to dabble in as the mood takes you... When the rain became heavier at the Lagoon this morning I headed for the Esplanade- but things in Palmy being so accessible and close, the sunshine was shining again by the time I arrived.

The arcade of cherry blossom trees that greets you as you arrive now have more leafy coverage with their blossoms.

And amongst the abundant flowering trees presently are many rhodos and still some magnolias, such as this delicate one.

I headed into the conservatory today to see a few of the more unusual plants. Here are two that took my eye.

And to finish, this very pretty cascade of flowers....