Sunday, 5 July 2015

Kapiti and a Pukerua Bay sunset

Saturday 27 June was a beautiful day – in Wellington at least – and we drove up to the Kapiti Coast for a long bike ride. We parked the car at the southern end of Marine Parade in Paraparaumu and started our bike ride on the new-ish shared walking/cycling path alongside the beach, with lovely views towards Kapiti Island.

About to get the bikes out of the car (photo by John)

Kapiti Island (photo by John)

We rode along Manly Street and some of the smaller roads running parallel to it, and did a little detour to Olive Terrace, where my parents used to live. From there, down a path between the houses, across Manly Street, and onto a track leading into the Waikanae Estuary Scientific Reserve.

The narrow track alternates between firm gravel on solid ground, and boardwalks over swampy areas. Very pleasant riding. According to the website, this is the habitat and breeding ground of more than 60 species of birds, but we didn’t see any of these.

The track alternates between firm gravel … (photo by John)

… and boardwalks over swampy areas (photo by John)

Bridging a stream feeding into the estuary (photo by John)

Low tide leaves the mudflats exposed

After the Estuary Reserve, the track goes alongside the Waikanae River, to arrive at the Otaihanga domain. This area suffered serious flooding in May and several places where we biked today showed the resulting damage.

We crossed the swing bridge at the domain, and headed through Waikanae towards PekaPeka. The destination was Harrisons Garden Centre Café. Riding along the road, we cranked up the e-assist on our bikes and pedalled on at speed. Yeehaa! Very satisfying.

As we were about to sit down on the deck at Harrisons, I suggested that we should sit under the sun umbrella – though by now the sun had disappeared behind the clouds – as it would protect us from the fall-out from the sparrows in the nearby tree. But it was too late. John had already been bombed by one of the pesky critters! The one negative about an otherwise very pleasant lunch.

On the way back we rode through the Waimanu Lagoons Reserve, where we saw a family with a young child feeding a large gaggle of geese. The lagoons are home to many geese, ducks, black swans, and shags (cormorants).

One of the Waimanu lagoons (photo by John)

Feeding the geese (photo by John)

From here we rode up the Waikanae River track. The May floods had inflicted a great deal of damage here. Debris carried along by the swiftly flowing swollen river had been left behind, wrapped around tree trunks and hanging on fences. The track had been scoured out, the water had gouged out great holes in places, and carried away a lot of top surface gravel, leaving behind silt.

Flood debris caught around tree trunks (photo by John)

Scoured-out track

An un-bikeable track and debris hanging in the fences

The waters dug great holes in the track (photo by John)

About half-way along the track are the construction works for the Kapiti Expressway. The piers for the bridge across the river are in place now. Apparently they are three metres wide and 38 meters deep. Impressive.

Piers for the Kapiti Expressway bridge (photo by John)

In most places the ground had dried out, but in other spots the track was a slippery quagmire. We thought it safer to dismount and carefully walk around the edge, but even that was a bit hazardous. A little while later we were overtaken by a chap on a mountain bike who – we could tell by the state of his bike – had relished ploughing and skidding right through it.

A seriously muddy patch (photo by John)

At the Te Arawai footbridge we crossed to the south bank of the river. The track here is wider and in better condition – mostly – but here too, the floods had left their mark.

It’s hard to believe that such a benign-looking river could have caused such floods (photo by John)

We stopped for more photos of the Kapiti Expressway construction on the other side of the river. More evidence of the floods, with debris hanging in the fences and water remaining in places.

The Expressway works on one side of the track … (photo by John)

… and on the other side. Water left behind by the flood provides perfect reflections (photo by John)

Just before getting back to the Otaihanga Domain, we rode on a section of track that was very rough. We biked here last summer when they had just finished laying a new hard-packed fine gravel surface. That had all been washed away. What a shame.

A lovely stand of cabbage trees (Cordyline australis) (photo by John) 

Heading back to the estuary track (photo by John)

It was after four o’clock by the time we got back to the car. We had done 42 km, and were very pleased with our ride.

As we drove home, down the Centennial Highway – the bit between Paekakariki and Pukerua Bay – we could see that the sun would be setting soon, and we decided to go down to Pukerua Beach to watch the sun going down. It had got quite cloudy during the day, and the sun was about to dip below the clouds.

Sunset at Pukerua Bay

We parked the car, and got the bikes out again, thinking we could bike around the point as far as the road or track would allow us to go. At the end of the road there is a tall Māori carving – Pou Tangaroa – created by Pukerua Bay craftsman carver Hermann Salzmann. It looked rather impressive in the gathering gloom.

Pou Tangaroa

Our bikes with their lights turned on (photo by John)

Soon our progress along the walking track was blocked by huge piles of driftwood on the track and beach.

The track had disappeared under piles of driftwood

As the sun was setting John took dozens of photos of the descent of the golden globe into the sea, and to capture the very second it disappeared altogether. He particularly likes the effect that is created when the sun seems to be the shape of a lightbulb.

Going … (photo by John)

… going … (photo by John)

… gone (photo by John)

Though the sun had gone down, it was not dark yet, so we rode down to the other end of the beach settlement.

Pukerua Beach (photo by John)

Dinghies pulled up off Brendan Beach (photo by John)

Driftwood on Brendan Beach

This is as far as we could go (photo by John)

John likes the almost metallic look of the water (photo by John)

It was fully dark by the time we left Pukerua Bay. We’d had a most satisfying day.

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