Monday, October 23, 2017

Labour Day roadie in Manawatu

Today I decided to take a wee roadie up the Pohangina Valley along some of the Manawatu Country Road.  From Ashhurst I headed north until the turn-off right for Totara Reserve. After a bit of exploration at the Reserve, I headed north some more along the Country Road as far as Umutoi. Next I back-tracked to take the metal road towards Makoura Lodge, but at the Pohangina Rd turn-off I turned left and headed south again. (There are quite a few 'options' on the Country Road, though this last metal section is not highlighted.) I finished with an ice-cream from the dairy in Ashhurst, long a known haunt of trampers- not that I had done much even in the way of gentle walking!

And now for some photos from the journey.
This country route is a quiet one, with little in the way of road traffic, (though I saw a few brave cyclists, fully laden with camping gear, heading north uphill on the metal sections of Pohangina Rd.) There are still many old barns that catch the eye as you pass, and they made me think of inhabitants in times gone by.
The Pohangina River is never far away in this whole area. I had a bit of a nosey around Totara Reserve, in case I decide to take a weekend camping break somewhere local over the summer. It was surprisingly calm and free of wind there. I did see a couple of families with children squealing over an eel caught in their trap- but they were putting it back in the river as it was too small. But yesterday they apparently caught a big one!
 This wee 'rapid' was in the Pohangina River. The cliffs near here make swimming too dangerous at this spot. Sadly some children died when some of the cliff face collapsed one summer evening a few years back.
Seemingly you have reached the 'middle of nowhere' when you pass Komako Church- but the grounds are kept immaculately, and an Anglican Service is still held here 2-3 times per month.

On my return journey driving down Pohangina Rd from its northern end, I truly did feel like I was in very isolated parts. The road was narrow and winding, and I was hoping I never met an oncoming vehicle. And I did have reason to hope at one point that I hadn't repeated my West Coast Incident and ventured onto a cycle track! But all was fine!
 This might not be a road that we city dwellers venture along often, but there were lots of sheep, lambs and steers to let you know farming families were close near by.

 The countryside up in the Pohangina Valley is quite magical. The hills have all kinds of shapes, and often you are traveling up a steepish hill, only to come down again soon to cross a bridge over the next stream.

The noise from this last hill was horrendous. I thought the lambs and ewes must have been separated for weaning, but no, they were still together on the hillside. (Maybe there was a sheep yard hidden nearby that the noise was coming from).

It was strange to come back downhill again onto a wider, sealed road. I had been 'in the wilds' and then I was returning to 'civilisation'. My break from city life had only been a brief illusion after all.
But I must come back again soon. There are more old shearing sheds to be found...

Sunday, October 22, 2017

by-the-wind sailors at Himatangi Beach

During the week I had read about the jellyfish 'invasion' on the south coast in Wellington, but I wasn't expecting to see zillions of them at Himatangi Beach this morning. Lying everywhere were these stranded jellyfish of a kind I hadn't seen before, though every so often there was a large bluebottle in their midst, complete with stinging tentacles. For once, I left my sandals on for the whole beach walk.

Back home I found an article in the Taranaki Daily News that described them up in New Plymouth. Apparently they are smelly, but as I have a cold still, I couldn't smell them!
It was a very windy day at the beach, and the first stretch of the walk down to the water was harder than usual as so much dry moving sand had been banked up on the usual 'road' down to the water. Heaps of driftwood had been blown back up the stream to where they had installed posts to stop it going any further. A couple of hardy whitebaiters were installed by the mouth of the stream.
 There were a few large blue jellyfish on the beach,

but mostly it was these smaller creatures that had become detritus at the high tide mark. Their distribution was variable- it seemed to depend on how the waves washed in.
There were mainly jellyfish of the by-the-wind sailors or velella kind, that don't sting, and there was also a small amount of seaweed on the beach. Here is a piece of kelp, not so commonly washed up on this beach.
 In some places by the high tide mark they were absolutely prolific- and I found it hard to select a driftwood log to sit on for a wee rest before I walked back...
 Sometimes seaweed trapped jellyfish within its branches. 
As I sat on a large log high up the beach, an old man started picking his way over the sand dunes, then down onto the beach, using his two walking sticks. I guess he lives nearby and comes down here everyday.
As I walked back along the beach, the tide was coming in quite quickly. The gap between the jellyfish borne on the waves, and the jellyfish left lying high up the beach by the last full-tide, was growing quite narrow.
This beach is always different- affected by the wind or other weather in some way.  I wonder how it will look next time?

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Homeward Bound

So it was my last morning. I remembered back to Tuesday a week ago at my first breakfast when I felt so welcomed by the staff- so genuinely kind, and it was obvious they were looking out for me as I was on my own- such a foreign concept for Samoans that I had come without partner or family or friends.
I started the morning with an early time out snorkelling, one last time on that beautiful beach.

I said goodbye to the staff, and we were off to the airport in a full shuttle.
I saw a couple of steep hills that I hadn't seen in the dark on the arrival journey. I know there is so much more to explore on these beautiful islands, but for this time, relaxing at a resort has been perfect.

Within about half an hour we had arrived at the airport, and departures, unlike arrivals, is in a very flash modern building. I wonder if they have had foreign aid for its construction. 

Not too many departures today...

The incoming flight arrived on time. 

And now I am homeward bound. It's been a wonderful holiday. The staff at Return to Paradise resort are family, and staying there was like being a guest in a very hospitable home. They were always solicitous that you were happy. And they were quick to notice what you might need. And the beach was such a beautiful one. It was a perfect, relaxing holiday. 
After meeting such welcoming people in Samoa, it was a bit of a shock to meet the grumpy serious man at immigration stamping my passport as I left. Surely he could still do his job with a more cheerful farewell!

And that is pretty much the end of this current sequence of posts... so until next time- Ka kite ano.

Last full day in Paradise

It's my last day in the resort in Samoa today. I thought of taking the shuttle to Apia but the idea of crowds and heat couldn't beat the idea of spending my last day by the heavenly beach at Return to Paradise resort. So here are just a few photos from a wander around the resort today.

The gardeners do wonderful work: walking around the gardens is a pleasure. 

This is Paradise Kitchen where dinner happens. The cultural evening and Maeve Boys band also happened here.

This is the view from my lunch spot at the Rock Pool Bar.

The sea was quite rough today near full tide. 
There are Samoan motifs carved on buildings, this one on the accommodation block I am in.
And for the last time, here is the afternoon view from my balcony.

I went snorkelling twice today- definitely my happy place. I saw still more new fish that I hadn't spied before. Just one last swim in the beach tomorrow before I check out...
Oh and at dinner tonight the group of four men returned to serenade us with their guitars and Samoan songs.

Sunday's different

Sunday is a day of rest in Samoa, like it used to be at home when I grew up. Saner times. Even Saturday was different with no gardeners on the grounds. This morning at breakfast a lot of the 'usual' faces weren't there serving, and no doubt they were all off to church with their families.

I spied this beautiful snail near the garden on my way back from breakfast. Such a lovely shell but I think it had been damaged. 

The resort put on a free shuttle for anyone who wanted to go to church- and I knew I wanted to hear the singing so I was in. I thought we would be going to the nearest church but we passed that and I think we reached the edge of  Lefuga as there was even a bank nearby. There is a new church being built that looks very beautiful from the outside, and we had the service in an adjacent hall. As far as I could work out, there had been cyclone damage to the old church.
It was very interesting. Most of the adults up front were in white and the congregation was segregated. The men and teen men were on one side, and the women singing were in a large block adjacent to them. The younger children were seated together on the right hand side, and were so well behaved throughout. Then there was a gap to a more varied group behind that included us. I don't know why some of the locals were back with us...
We arrived late but so did others. Our donation was collected at a desk before we went in, and our names and amounts were later read out along with all the family donations. I know I am not the first to wonder who went without a necessity to give the expected amount. But there is a cohesiveness in these communities and it centres around the common good rather than individual good.
The harmonies were beautiful when they sang. We'd been warned the whole service would be in Samoan but the pastor actually spoke good English. He welcomed us, and seemed to give an English introduction to most parts of the service before carrying on in Samoan. He even gave a precis of his sermon in English. After the sermon a very well dressed woman in green and her equally well dressed husband went to the front, where two boys had brought in a table. Then the serious business of publicly reading out names and donation amounts began. When that was all over and done our van was outside ready to take us back to our resort.

Most of the rest of the day became a swimming and snorkelling day, interspersed with reading my book. Yet more different fish to spy in the coral.

At lunchtime there were some day-trippers, come for Sunday. There was also some unexpected music from three local men playing guitars and singing. 
I watched the sunset again on the beach, then discovered it was a quiet night in the restaurant. Lots of people must have gone home ready for a new work week. The two units near me even seem to be empty tonight for the first time. I guess there will be an influx on flights tomorrow. 

At dinner tonight I discovered that one of the NZ women in a group I've been talking/ swimming with a bit has worked with a friend of mine. It's only ever two degrees of separation in New Zealand as they say...