Saturday, January 09, 2021

Palmy walk- with Camino training memories

Today and tomorrow in Tasmania there is a pilgrimage walk that has become a 'virtual' Camino, since so many cannot presently walk the Camino in Spain, or even walk far in their own country. Throughout the day people have been posting photos from many places around the world of their 'virtual' Caminos. 

I decided against walking 15km+ today, but I did walk about 6km this morning, on a route that I often walked when I was 'training' for each of my Caminos in 2008 and 2012.  The route is very familiar to me, and I enjoyed re-tracing an old path. We are lucky in Palmerston North that we have a succession of city walkways/ green corridors that you can link up, and walk as far or briefly as you wish.  Today I parked my car at Springdale Grove, headed in the direction of the hills, then across behind IPU, before turning back down the Summerhill 'valley' path and rejoining my car. Here are a selection of photos from my walk.

Here is the sign where I started walking- it's looking a bit 'worn' but still serves it's purpose.
To the top right of this photo you can see some 'blue' colouring that is the city athletics track. 

It didn't seem to take long before I was heading downhill again, with the view of the hills ahead of me. There has been lots of infrastructure built by PNCC in terms of steps and bridges etc that make this walk possible, and I am grateful for all of it.

As always on a walk, it is some of the 'little' details that make the heart glad.

Old fencepost I always love seeing







The path lead downhill, then uphill by a pond, then down again to Old West Road. Sometimes I turn back to my car at this point, but today I decided to do a loop.

Near Old West Rd there were quite a few 'Te Araroa' symbols appearing. The path I had walked was part of the Te Araroa Walkway, but not far from here, I diverged to return back around to the city, while those walking the Te Araroa route continue on down Turitea Rd and into the hills behind the city.

Just before I joined Turitea Rd, I met some sheep that looked back at me. I seem to have often walked here in springtime, when mothers and lambs tend to run away, but these sheep just calmly regarded me.
The next bit of the path is a link path up to Pacific Drive, and I remember on previous occasions,looking at reflections in puddles and this creek as I climbed- because there is in fact a steep bit of climb here that I like to distract myself from. But the view at the top is well worth it.

A new sign has appeared since I last walked here. As you re-emerge into the land of nearby houses, there is the Adderstone Walkway, and clearly people have been planting here over time. There are many flax bushes near a pond, and earlier in the season, you get to see many tui swooping into the flax flowers to feed. For now, the seed pods are swelling and not so appetising for tui at present.

By now, my day's route was coming to a close. I headed downhill into the valley by Summerhill Drive, where there is some shade as the day warms up.

And as I finally rejoined the road before getting back to my car at Springdale Grove, I took time to enjoy the summer wildflowers by the fence. 

 Addendum: I didn't see any tui today by IPU, but the flax flowers in my backyard are a little later, so I did indeed see a tui at home.

Buen Camino to all the Virtual Camino walkers today. I found it a peaceful interlude to be walking today. With all that is going on in the world at present, I hope you did too.

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Northland- east coast

I spent a lot more time on the eastern side of Northland- but am running out of time for blogging with a return to work looming- so you might just get a few highlights!
First up is the amazing bridge at Taipa. I parked and walked back to look at it properly and was so glad I did. On one 'prow' is a shag and on the other is a whale diving. There was a plaque dedicated to Sire Heke-nuku-mai-nga-iwi Puhipi, who was a master waka builder and celestial navigator, and who had been involved with the building of many bridges in Northland.
I stopped at several beautiful bays on the way south- then stopped for longer at Kerikeri, where I was a teacher many years back in just my second year of teaching. There have been many changes since then. It was nice to enjoy some rare sunshine this day!
 There used to be a bridge here but there was some serious flooding, and now there is a majorly changed route.
 The Stone House stands here still. You could enter now as it is a shop- when I was living in the area it was closed all the time.
 I was disappointed to find I couldn't enter Kemp House though. I bought a Heritage NZ membership this year, but so far have only managed to use it once in Russell- many places are either closed or only open on Sundays.
 St James church in Kerikeri.

 There was lots to see wandering in Russell. I did a guided tour of Pompallier House that was incredibly informative about how the Catholic missionary station printed material in Maori. I also noticed some prominent graves in the Russell cemetery.
 There was more light shed on this one to a Ngapuhi chief when I visited Ruapekapeka Pa a few days later. He was fighting with the British against other members of Ngapuhi in the last of the northern wars.
 There was a lot to take in at Waitangi. There is a new museum to members of the Maori Battalion. I found it extremely moving, and actually left in tears. One day I hope to go back and view it more.
The government is clearly making good on its promises that we should all be able to learn more about the New Zealand Wars. The Ruapekapeka Pa site has had a lot of work done with infrastructure near it like paths and parking. Again it was a very moving, and somewhat sombre, place to visit.

Last photo in this blog post is of Whangarei Falls. Great track to walk around to see it from various angles and heights.
Storms were promising as I drove south finally to spend some time with my niece. One day I will return when it is all perhaps slightly warmer and drier!
This blog post is really just skimming the surface, but work is calling!

Cape Reinga

I have visited Cape Reinga twice before, it is such a special place. It was bitterly cold as I began the walk down to the lighthouse, and it was time to don hat, scarf and gloves- but as I descended, there was more shelter from the bitter wind.
I appreciated the signs about the geology of the place. There were many signs, perhaps almost too many in parts, though they all told different parts of the story.

 I found it interesting that on this third visit, it wasn't the lighthouse that seemed significant to me, but I was more focused on the Maori stories about the spirits travelling through Northland to jump off on their final journey to Hawaiiki-A-Nui.
 There were of course few tourists. Strange to have the place almost to myself.
 And far below was the tree from which the spirits slip off into the underworld to return to the land of their ancestors.
 On the drive back south I stopped to look at the Te Paki sand dunes- but I left others to do the climbing and descent.
 My sister told me to stop off at Kapowairua (Spirit's Bay.) The sand here was very special to walk on, and I ran the shell particles through my hands repeatedly.
There is a DOC campground here, and I can imagine stopping here one summer in a tent before too much longer.
I ended up spending the night at the very northern part of Doubtless Bay, in the Whatuwhiwhi holiday park, ready to head down the east coast of Northland.

Northland - west coast

From Coromandel, I drove right through Auckland as far as Dargaville to begin my west coast exploration of Northland. I made a brief stop at Matakohe en route, where there is a beautiful kauri museum I have seen previously. The cemetery next to the church was interesting: I guess I was expecting to see a lot of Dalmatian names, but instead I saw lots of Smith family headstones!
I stayed the night in a simple but comfortable motel that took me back to the 70s in many ways- and the owner was a very personable man, who had got up very early one morning in Kaitaia to reach Cape Reinga before sunrise. The motel wasn't far from the large river which runs through the town.
Next morning as I drove north, the rainfall of previous days was obvious in paddocks. Hard to believe that Northland/Auckland was in serious drought before my arrival!
My next stop was at the Kai Iwi freshwater dune lakes. I had learned about dune lakes as part of my NZ Flora course where we looked at the plants colonising the dunes along the Himatangi coast, but I was very surprised by the size of these ones.
I had seen Tane Mahuta before, but of course had to stop off to see this grand kauri tree again. There were some other kauri walks in the vicinity, but only one of the three was open, and it was 50mins return. I just didn't feel like risking the rain again, sook that I am, and didn't walk it. 
It wasn't long before I reached the twin Hokianga towns of Omapere and Opononi. The beautiful view when I first saw Hokianga Harbour took my breath away again.

I had lunch here but decided to move on almost to my own bemusement. I had previously passed through here midsummer when it was too busy to even think of trying to park and stop for a while- but somehow it all felt too "Auckland" for me today.
So it was on to Rawene, where a winter timetable for the ferry sailing meant I had just missed one, and had to wait nearly an hour for the next one. (My punishment for skipping a night in Opononi I guess!)

It was already getting dark when I arrived in Kaitaia, and I had no idea where I would stay. Fortunately I saw a motel vacancy sign, a petrol station and a sign pointing north for Cape Reinga all within 50 metres or so- so I found a place to hunker down for the night.