Monday, 16 September 2013

Wellington South Coast - again

And another lovely day for cycling on Saturday! A fine day, with a light southerly breeze. Where to go this time? We tossed up between Pencarrow, or Hutt River or Wellington South Coast. The latter won.

On our way to Owhiro Bay, we drove past Carlucci Land, a park with weird and wonderful sculptures made from all manner of old machinery and metal junk. I’ve been meaning to go and have a look in there for years, but somehow it was never the right time – it is in the shade in the afternoon. We didn’t want to stop on the way to our ride, but thought we might on our way back. But again, it was too late by the time we headed home, so it will have to wait for another day – soon, I hope.

We parked the car at the end of the road, near the Owhiro Quarry, and the beginning of the track to Red Rocks. We were surprised at how many cars were there. It’s quite a large parking area and we got the last spot. The gate to the Red Rocks road was open, and quite a few 4WD cars were driving through.

We got the last car park near the Owhiro Quarry

From a distance, the track looked in much better condition than when we visited here after the 20 June storm. So we thought we would try riding it, and see how far we could get. Not terribly far, as it happened. It was still very rough, and the gravel was quite deep, so rather unstable. So we turned around and did the easy thing – riding on the foot/cycle path towards Island Bay.

The Red Rocks track was rough and the gravel deep and unstable

I am so glad we’ve got ourselves into this cycling-exploring lark. We get to see so much more from a bike than from a car. And I really appreciate the beauty of the Wellington coast more than ever.

Rocks near Owhiro Bay beach (photo by John)

Although it was not very windy, there was a bit of a swell ... (photo by John)

… and quite a surf – maybe a rip? – at Houghton Bay Beach (photo by John)

At Island Bay there is a building sitting on a rocky outcrop, called the Bait House. It houses the Island Bay Marine Education Centre, and an aquarium. I have never been inside, as fishes are not exactly my thing. Next to it is a large rusting cauldron – a former whaling pot – and nearby there is also a large anchor. This area was badly “re-arranged” by the 20 June storm, but all looked very calm and tidy today.

Old whaling pot next to The Bait House – Island Bay Marine Education Centre

Taputeranga Island is quite close to the shore. In the distance is the South Island, with recent snow on the Kaikouras

Someone had carefully balanced this piece of driftwood on the rocks (photo by John)

Approaching Lyall Bay, we were able to divert from the foot/cycle path, by going on a gravel track that skirted the water more closely.

Heading towards Lyall Bay (photo by John)

We continued around the bays till we got to Lyall Bay. There were a lot of people on the beach, children digging in the sand, and people playing with their dogs on part of the beach that was signposted as "Woof Woof Ruff Dog Exercise Area". All the debris that had been deposited on the beach by the June storm, was no longer there, and I wondered where it had all gone. Did people collect some of it to mulch their gardens, or was it collected by the council and dumped? Or probably - much more likely - it just got carried back out to sea.

At the airport end of the bay, there were a few surfers and paddle boarders riding the waves.

Surfers in the Lyall Bay surf. The Interisland ferry on the horizon (photo by John)

A caravan called “Ekim”, selling burgers of all descriptions, seemed to be doing good business, as there were quite a few people sitting on the benches near it, waiting for their orders. I asked if they did coffee, but the reply was “no, but we can do you a coffee milkshake”.

Ekim burgers galore! (photo by John)

So we had some coffee milkshakes, and a pottle of chunky chips. I hadn’t had a coffee milkshake for years. I used to make them regularly when my children were at school. They’d have milo milkshakes, and I’d have a coffee milkshake, when they came home from school. I must say my milkshakes – made with ice-cream – were nicer than the ones we had from Ekim, which had rather too much “thickener” in them. But their chips were very nice. And their burgers looked spectacular – but we didn’t have one.

We enjoyed watching the surfers while we had our shakes and chips, and John played “fetch the stick” with a dog that deposited a stick at his feet. The dog sat on the sand amongst the rocks, and waited patiently for John to take up the challenge. Unfortunately with the onshore wind, the stick did not fly very far, and soon both John and the dog gave up on the game.

Surf's up! (photo by John)

After our snack interlude, we rode back to Owhiro Bay without stopping. It took us just half an hour. We’d had a lovely afternoon’s riding. We did just over 17 kms.

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