Sunday, February 19, 2012


The Manawatu Gorge road has been blocked by a huge slip for months now, and it will be months before it re-opens. You can catch a glimpse of the slip-face from the first lookout when you climb up on the Gorge walking track.

Contractors have been cutting a series of terraces into the hillside to improve its stability, but today was the first time I have been able to see signs of that from the lookout. They are now down to bench 4 or 5...

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Along Green's Rd

Last night I read an account written by someone who has walked the route I am planning to walk in a few months- and it scared me somewhat! I knew that the Cluny route was going to be very hilly- but I didn't really think too hard about the long distances that might be needed if the limited accommodation is booked out... So, I decided that my 'training' so far has been a bit like 'playtime' compared to what is to come, and today had to be another 'hill' day. And finally, we had a 'proper' summer's day for it. I parked my car at the end of the sealed section of Turitea Rd, so I could walk up the metalled road and through the walking/biking section onto Green's Rd- then return.
There were lots of wildflowers along the way.

 And it also seemed to be a busy time for 'nests' for various insects or spiders.

The sunshine was pouring down as I reached one high point, ready to walk downhill then up the other side again. You can't see them here, but a group of soldiers were training for what looked like mine-sweeping operations. One of them offered me some water if I needed it: my face probably looked quite red and sweaty when I passed them, but I had a bottle of drink ready for when I reached the high point of the walk at the top of the very next hill.

 As I sat down at the high point for a drink and some fruit, I noticed a power pole, that seemed to provide a good contrast with yesterday's small pylon...

 There were quite a few native tree ferns alongside the road in various places.

And to finish- a bee on a thistle...

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Man-made walking sights

Today I headed out on the Turitea Walkway again- this time 'backwards' from the Old West Rd carpark, then uphill through the Massey campus back to my car. On the way I took a few photos of things that were 'man-made'...

This decaying old fence-post always seems to catch my eye.

 I realised that I seldom see the 'beauty' in power pylons- but with sunshine and blue skies behind it, this small pylon also caught my eye today.

 I always enjoy noticing how shadows fall, and how they change through the day. I loved the way the shadow from these fence posts enlivened the path this morning!

 Then there was this woman-made shadow as I crossed one of the pedestrian bridges over the Turitea Stream. It reminded me of some of the obligatory 'shadow photos' I took on the Camino in 2008!

 It's very pleasant walking up through the Massey campus. You can make a toilet stop or sit or have a snack-break on a seat. There are not many students back for the year yet so it is almost too peaceful on the concourse.
There are lots of buildings to walk past of course, some a bit ugly. But even this ugly one surprised me with the wonderful reflection in its windows!

Friday, February 03, 2012


I always like noticing 'reflections' when I am out walking. Saw these reflected fence-posts alongside one of the city walkways near Palmy today.

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Manawatu Gorge

Now that I am 'seriously' into the countdown, I expect to walk the Manawatu Gorge track at least once a week until 'departure'. It's the 'best' (ie steepest, hilliest, longest) track near to home. By NZ track standards it's actually not all that steep, and the track has been graveled so it's easier walking, but it was perfect training for the kind of hills/tracks I walked on last time in France.

When I walked the Camino I used to carry little pieces of paper in my shorts pocket, with quotes on, that I'd read and think about during the day. Today I took a couple of short quotes. and one was: "We have only this moment, sparkling like a star in our hand, and melting like a snowflake." ~Sir Francis Bacon. So I was pretty 'switched on' to noticing little things around me, and enjoying them, being aware of their passing beauty. There were raindrops on leaves, fungi of various kinds, sunlight on ferns...

 Then when I reached my 'endpoint' for the day at the "Windy Point" lookout, it was the big view that took my breath away. At this point you can look back along the Gorge, or look over to Woodville and the landscape beyond. Today the weather was in the process of 'changing', with real drama in the clouds above.

 I retraced my steps back to the newish lookout over the wind turbines, and had lunch at the picnic table. The turbines were really humming in the wind. The 'front' was really obvious, stacked up from the eastern side, with little clouds lower down scudding over from the west.

 Not so many people have been on the track since the Gorge road has been closed- and there's a patch where ongaonga (native stinging nettle) is growing well. It is every bit as vicious as it looks, but fortunately I never banged into it today!

 I was a bit surprised to see this bridge. Maybe I have daydreamed my way across it before- but I couldn't find an old track- so perhaps it just looked different with new planks on it...

 Some of the little fungi were quite well 'camouflaged'.

One really nice surprise today was to see these nikau palms flowering. There's quite a big patch of nikau, but I've seldom seen them flowering. I know they are doing quite a bit of 'pest control' on the track, so maybe these flowers are a sign that possum numbers are being reduced.