Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Esplanade Wander

Today I decided would be a lazy day before I have to ramp up the effort for school again. I spent more than the morning (ummm yes until about 3pm) reading the Camino book given to me by a family at the end of last year- "Travels with my donkey: One man and his ass on a pilgrimage to Santiago" by Tim Moore. I had read a library copy before I went on the Camino in 2008- in fact I may have read it before I even decided to go on the Camino... I enjoyed the book back then, but I absolutely loved reading it this time around. With the Camino 'under my belt' I was able to have such a clear picture in my mind of the places the author was going to with his donkey- and he made me laugh so much! And as happens with pilgrims, I was so happy to find he/they 'made it'. (Also, it was intriguing to see how much the pilgrim 'infrastructure' of albergues etc had developed in the few years between our walks.)

After my great lie-in I decided to have a quick walk in the Esplanade, always a place to enjoy the season's flowers. So here are some of the plants in the sunshine:

The Manawatu River is very low at present. We really have had little rain for months. Even when we were all moaning about our windy, grey spring, we really lacked rainfall. 

I checked out the 'butterfly' section of the garden. There were a few monarch butterflies fluttering around- but there were huge numbers of caterpillars competing for the diminishing supply of food on the swan plants. It seemed that many must be nearly big enough to make that transition into the J shape and then a chrysalis quite soon...

A place I don't tend to wander into often is the rose garden- and of course it looked magnificent in there today in the sunshine, with all the roses in full bloom...

Monday, January 12, 2015

Rangiwahia Hut

Yesterday a French visitor and I climbed to Rangiwahia Hut. When I was younger I walked this route quite a few times, but I think it might be some 25 years or so since I last did it. (Gulp!) And it was a lot more difficult than I remembered- but oh the views were just spectacular, and every bit as sweet, if not more so!

 In the carpark at the bottom it was a special moment when I saw this memorial to Tony Gates, someone I went tramping with quite often in my younger days.

DOC has done a huge amount of work on this track. Much of it was forced because of a huge slip that came down, taking out a section of the existing track. They have re-routed the track so it now zigzags up above the slip- then zigzags down again to the bridge over the river. (Hence there is now a short uphill section on the return journey, whereas it used to be all downhill!) They have added several really informative signs, such as this one.

 The bridge is even more spectacular for being able to be viewed from above.

 And from the bridge it is an awful long way down to the river below- but somehow, it doesn't seem as scary as it looks.

 From the bridge on upwards, you regularly see these traps for stoats, laid in an effort to stop them predating the endangered blue duck, whio, that live in some of the fast moving streams here in the northern Ruahine region.

 This is a view back across the slip. In a couple of places you can still see where the track used to go- but no longer.
 I was really delighted to notice a small group of native orchid. For some reason, I had never been able to recognise these before when other people pointed them out to me, but today I 'knew' exactly what I was seeing.

 I did find the climbing hard work- harder than I was expecting. If I had been walking with friends instead of an overseas visitor, I think I might have given up, and told them to go ahead, I would see them again on the way down! But my visitor was very patient with my slowness uphill, and I kept looking hopefully at the vegetation, wishing upon it the 'shortness' of sub-alpine shrubs well before its time- until eventually we arrived, almost suddenly, at the tussock. And after a very small amount of tussock, the hut buildings came into view.

 These days there are some very flash longdrops behind the hut, complete with beautiful murals.

 And here is Rangiwahia Hut.

 Nearby I took a few minutes to explore the plants. From memory, this is an alpine daisy, Celmisia.

 The biggest surprise of the day came when we were eating lunch, and suddenly a glider swooped by. Amazing to watch it catch thermals and soar and glide above these ranges.

The view out to Ruapehu was a bit misty to start with, but the mountain soon came into clear view.

 You can see how rugged and remote these ranges are.

Going back downhill was so much easier- and an unexpected treat was seeing this rather large worm on the pathway. It was a beautiful walk, through some beautiful bush. I am glad I have done it again, even though I didn't find it all that easy uphill!

Friday, January 02, 2015

Gorge to Te Apiti Lookout

The first day I tackled the Gorge I just did the Tawa Loop (4km and 200m altitude) and yesterday I walked as far as Te Apiti Lookout (8km and 400m altitude). So I am on the way for getting ready for Assisi walking!

Interestingly, I've always found the walking 'easier' after the first section- thought it was just because my body was 'warmed up'- but as you can see from the Strava altitude trace, after about 2km you keep climbing, but the gradient is a little bit gentler.

 This is a view of the Manawatu River as it emerges from the Gorge, taken from the carpark at the Ashhurst end. There's not been much rain in recent months, and the water level is quite low.

 Taking the Tawa Loop up, you come to Tom's Lookout, which looks back down over the floodplains and the river. To the far left, just out of shot, is Palmerston North city, which you get a glimpse of if you stand up on the seats! Both days I've passed here recently I have sat on the seats, and had interesting convos with others doing the same.

 I love the forest. There are many ponga tree ferns, and also nikau palms, and also many tall thin trunks of tawa trees.
 A nikau frond in the sunlight.

 Parataniwha plant. I have always loved the reddish tinge in these leaves. Once had to dig under them to find giant snails for relocation. Never knew they were in the nettle family.

 The endpoint of today's walk- Te Apiti lookout, looking out over windmills on the opposite hillside.

 And here is the view looking down into the Gorge at the same viewpoint.

 Returning downhill- and another nikau frond catching the sunlight...

Back in town, I drove alongside this magnificent avenue of flowering pohutukawa trees on Napier Rd. Christmas Joy.

Thursday, January 01, 2015

Hitting the Gorge....

Training these hols for my Assisi walk will involve hitting the Manawatu Gorge numerous times in January. Took a first stab at it on the Tawa Loop the other day. Interesting to find that Strava works all the way...
 I got to see the statue of Whatonga for the first time- where the Tawa Loop track joins the main track, and the diversion down to the Big Slip. Whatonga is the ancestor (grandfather) of the local Rangitane people.

And here is this view of the Gorge from the first viewpoint- which looks over a small part of the big slipface from a few years back.

I'm now off to walk a longer section of the Gorge track. Catch you later, and Happy New Year!