Monday, January 28, 2008

lane swimming

Somewhere back earlier last year, when it got darker and colder in the mornings, and study for my NZ fauna paper took all my early morning energy, I stopped going to the pool and lane swimming. And once stopped, it is one of those things that seems difficult to restart.
But finally I have restarted! I figure that cross-training should be the 'name of the game' now for getting fit before I depart. And this morning I jumped in for just over half an hour of lane swimming.
I was pleased to find that my current training, walking up hills, meant I wasn't short of breath at all, though my shoulders did wonder what was going on. My leg muscles loved the more gentle treatment they got waddling in the pool, using different muscles from my walking ones. (I do only waddle in the pool too... I have a hopeless kicking style that gets me nowhere fast!)
I got home and absolutely loved the 'alive' feeling my whole body had after the swim. A pleasure I had forgotten all about. So.... as I am only going to be doing casual, on-call work now until my departure... if the phone hasn't gone by 7.45am, I might well be off to the pool!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Rainbows and stormclouds

Set the alarm this morning.. was a bit mystified about what it was when it actually went off -that's holidays for you- but nevertheless was ready to start walking from my friend's place at the bottom of Kahuterawa Rd just before 6am.
It was noticeably darker than the last time I started this early, and though I could see quite clearly, cars had their headlights on.

For a change, I kept my light merino on for most of the walk today. I also resorted, for the first time walking this route, to wearing my raincoat in a few places, quite a novelty lately.

Up on Greens Rd there were wild blackberries growing in places. Most were still green, but this bunch were clearly on the red side. I will have to come back walking this way in just a few weeks time! It reminded me of the roadside blackberries I found in rural Ireland and even Jersey in July-August 2006... all the more delicious for their accessibility only to walkers!

The walk along Greens Rd was slightly crazier than I have previously experienced. Usually I am making sure I have enough sunblock on for the rest of the walk at this stage. But today there were some wild winds up this way. In some places the wind was at my back, pushing me forward; and in other places it was in my face, hindering me. Spits of rain were part of the wind. Three runners passed me as I headed up the last hill, and talked about how exciting the wind was. With all the bends in the road, and ridges on the hills, the wind was quite unpredictable.

Right at the top of the hill, I usually get a wonderful view out over the plains, but today I saw a rainbow, and could barely make out the features below.

As I descended from Greens Rd though, I quickly left the worst of the winds behind. Ahead of me, stormy looking clouds loomed, but they came to naught.

For the last hour or so, I finally got to take off my merino jersey, slap on more sunscreen, and keep my sunhat close to my face. As always, my feet felt tired towards the end - this walk must be close to 20- 22 km I think- and as always my feet felt relieved to see this last sign, which means only about 350m left to walk to my car!

Friday, January 25, 2008

Taylor's Mistake Walkway, Christchurch

My last day down south I wasn't flying out until mid-afternoon, and the kiddiwinks of the household, old and young, were away on varied exploits. So my friend suggested a walk to Taylor's Mistake. Beautiful walk, don't miss it. But try not to pick a hot sunny Canterbury day if you can manage it- phew!- did I drink a heap of water!!!
We parked near Sumner and headed uphill, getting a lovely view back over the suburb. First part of the climb was lovely and shaded too.

There was little shade on top, but the view as you walked around on the hills was magnificent. So dry everywhere though. (To think I thought it was getting dry-ish at home.)
The waters were quite rough, as you can see from these wave patterns down in the bay out from Taylor's Mistake itself. Somewhere along this last part of the walk I was desperate for more water.... but luckily, this was 'civilisation', and suddenly, I came across a drinking fountain! I drank a heap of water and filled my water bottle with more.

Down at the beach there were a lot of people in the water. The lifeguards were looking a bit nervous, as the water was really quite rough, with a big undercurrent dragging back out to sea. I hadn't taken my swimming togs, as I usually have an aversion to 'cold east coast currents'. But I paddled anyhow, and the waves soon had me wet up to my thighs. Lovely feeling on such a hot day! Great way to finish a trip to Canterbury.

Okains Bay Camping 2008

Here is a YouTube slideshow of photos from camping at Okains Bay, Banks Peninsula, January 2008. Plus just a few photos at the end from a walk to Taylor's Mistake.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Okains Bay part 2

Mostly I chose the early mornings to go walking, and climbed up to the far headland several times. Here I am looking back towards the camping ground... in the far bay. You can't see any campers as all the tents are well hidden within the pine trees, which gave shelter on the hot sunny days we had. At the time I was walking, you couldn't see many campers either as mostly they were still deep in their sleeping bags - unless of course they had young children!
From near little Okains Bay I took this photo of the little 'islands', from where you can hear lots of seabirds calling. One morning I got 'divebombed' by a seagull as I passed back through this bay... so I don't like your chances of getting close to the island, even at low tide!

But it sounded like the local Okains Bay museum should also be visited. This became my mission later in the morning on our last full day at the bay. If you left camp when the tide had gone out quite a bit, you could walk all the way up one side of the lagoon to the first bridge.

The historic nature of this area was apparent, with quite a few buildings dating from earlier times. The hillsides were very dry and barren. I was left pondering how much topsoil had been lost when the bush was all cleared from these hills.

There was a lot of bird life to observe walking up along the lagoon, and if you were cunning enough, you could also see some of the crabs before they heard you and scuttled back into their incredibly numerous holes.

Next, by crossing over the bridge, you came to a local metalled road that led all the way up alongside the riverbank, to a point just opposite the village itself. By using the Millennium footbridge, you could then reach the village.

The museum itself was quite amazing, with some very special Maori treasures inside.

There was an array of interesting old buildings, and I was especially taken by this wooden house.
There was a modern meeting house decorated with beautiful tukutuku panels and carvings, and a shed housed two waka that I was told are used on Waitangi Day.
Like many rural museums, there was an eclectic selection on display. One of the saddest display cases for me was one that contained five stuffed extinct huia. But there were a lot of beautiful Maori artifacts. If you visit Okains, make sure you get to the museum.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Camping in Okains Bay

Here is a bit more of a taste of where I have been in the last week. This YouTube video starts and ends with my flight out/in of Palmie and spends most of the time in Okains Bay on Banks Peninsula. At the end there are a few shots from my walk in 33C heat to Taylors Mistake. There are multitudinous shots of a tree I was fascinated by, up the top of a headland at the end of a walkway from Okains.
Soon I will get round to posting a bit more detail about what I got up to. Plus I have a bird for you to identify for me maalie... bound to be a common seabird but I am not sure which one! - will post a photo soon! Meanwhile, enjoy some views of summer down-under.

Monday, January 07, 2008

New Plymouth

OK for all you loyal readers - all two of you - who may well be getting tired of incessant photos from the Gorge and rural Manawatu - despite the fact that local walking really is my life currently!!- I bring you a diversion to New Plymouth. I stayed a couple of nights with my sister. Decided to visit the fossils exhibition at Puke Ariki, the local museum, and to walk there via the beachfront walkway.

After some discussion, we decided the best way for me to get onto the walkway from their place was to divert a short distance down to Nobs Line. I used to flat on Nobs Line, way back, way way back, before dinosaurs were even invented, in my first year of teaching. In fact I used to live on the above featured property, just up from the sea. And my bedroom was right at the front facing out over the ocean. I used to watch the sea in all weathers, and could just go out walking on the sand, literally any time of the day or night. (However, it is true I did not live in this somewhat ugly 'mansion': the simple, rather grotty, house we lived in was removed to construct this!)

As it turned out, it seemed 'meant' that I should go via Nobs Line, straight down onto East End beach. I ended up stumbling upon this newly erected seat, in memory of the mother of an old school friend. I sat there quite peacefully, remembering her.

Just a few people wandered along the sand from Fitzroy.
And just a few walked on the beach towards Paritutu- part of the lip of an old volcano.

And for maalie... when he gets back from his traipsing in Italy.... here is a pohutukawa, beside the sea as it should be.
They have done amazing things to develop the foreshore in New Plymouth, and the walkway was full of people walking. This section was a bit weird though..... the walls behind are so tall that you feel insulated from the land. It would be interesting to walk here when the sea is rougher.
There are a group of sculptors at work at present, using andesite to make their sculptures. Hard stuff this, and power tools much in evidence. Fascinating to stand by and watch their public progress.

I can't leave New Plymouth without showing you Len Lye's windwand. It is controversial and a talking point. Beside the sea, there is no doubt it is dramatic. It was quite calm as I walked this morning: it would be interesting to see what movement happened on a day with more wind.

My next pictures might also be from 'far away'. I am going camping in the South Island with some friends. See you when I get back!