Saturday, 15 April 2017

Paekakariki to Paraparaumu, and Kapiti Aeromodellers Club

I’m a few blogs behind. I’ll catch up in the next day or so.

Thursday 16 March was a glorious day, fine and calm, so we drove up to Paekakariki for another ride on Te Ara o Whareroa and on part of Te Ara Kapiti (the track next to the new Kapiti Expressway).

Getting the bikes ready (photo by John)

An idyllic scene from Paekakariki’s waterfront (photo by John)

Though there wasn’t much wind, John had to attend to his eye, which must be protected from airflows to stop it drying out.

John had to stop to attend to his eye

Much of the time, the cycle track runs parallel to the Kapiti Expressway, but some distance removed from it. However, there are several bridges on the Expressway where the cycle track runs right next to it. I noticed signs before these bridges saying that horses were not allowed “beyond this point”, and I wondered why that was. Then I figured that because you are so close to traffic rushing past, a horse could easily be spooked by a passing truck, which could result in a pretty nasty accident.

Most of the time the cycle track is well away from the Expressway … (photo by John)

… but on the bridges, it runs right next to the rushing traffic (photo by John)

At the bridge over the Wharemauku Stream, we diverted from the Expressway and headed on the track towards Paraparaumu Beach.

The bridge over the Wharemauku Stream – looking towards Coastlands shopping centre
 (photo by John)

The track goes past the back of the airport, and just before getting to the beach it becomes a quite unpleasant, bumpy and narrow rut through a paddock. I don’t enjoy this bit, but fortunately it is not very long.

The track runs past the back of the airport … (photo by John)

… and then becomes a narrow rut as it goes through a paddock (photo by John)

We made our way safely to Paraparaumu Beach, where we had lunch at the 180 Degrees Café. On our way back, we stopped near the beach for a few photos.

Kapiti Island (photo by John)

The tide was in (photo by John)

Back on Te Ara Kapiti, we diverted temporarily to follow a sign pointing to Kiwi Road. Here the track went around a substantial area of wetland, and we saw that lots of waterfowl had already made it their home. We saw geese, ducks, paradise ducks, pukeko and stilts.

The track around the wetland at Kiwi Road (photo by John)

Some of the birdlife in this wetland (photo by John)
Click to enlarge

Thoughtfully provided seating ovelooks the wetland (photo by John)

In Queen Elizabeth II Park, we turned off the cycle track towards the beach. John wandered off to take some photos, while I sat on a bench and chatted to a campervan owner who had come from Upper Hutt, just to sit in the sun and enjoy the day.

The Whareroa Stream exit to the beach (photo by John)

We heard the sound of small planes buzzing overhead, so we went to have a look at the Kapiti Aeromodellers Club, which has its clubrooms and airfield nearby. We parked our bikes by the entrance, and asked one of the men if it was OK for us to come and have a look. “Yes sure”, was the answer. There was a lot of activity going on. There were more than a dozen vans and cars with large trailers, and a lot of men – mostly older, probably retired, since it was a weekday – assembling or tweaking their planes, and indulging in their hobby.

Kapiti Aeromodellers enjoying their passion on a fine calm day (photo by John)

I was amazed at the size of some of the planes – large enough and realistic enough to have a figure in the pilot’s seat. We chatted to some of the men there, and watched as people took turns in using the runway to fly their planes. One of them explained that when there is more than one plane in the air, each plane has to have two people – one piloting (i.e. working the radio controls), and the other spotting (i.e. keeping a watch that it is not on a collision course with another plane).

A Piper Pawnee (one-third scale) is readied to tow a glider (photo by John)

Getting the tow-plane and glider ready to fly. Two pilots: one for the tow-plane, the other for the glider.
(photo by John)

John was loving all this

John revelled in all this, and it brought back a few memories for him. His father was an aircraft engineer, working at one stage at Paraparaumu Airport. He remembers as a young boy being allowed to go with Dad to “put the planes to bed” when they had to be tethered to ground cables to stop them being blown about by the wind. He tells of how he sat in the co-pilot’s seat, while his Dad fired up the engines to taxi the DC3 or Lodestar to its tethering point. Once tethered, he would help his Dad to put newspapers over the wires “for the plane’s bedtime reading” (actually to stop anyone tripping over the wires).

A collection of war planes under a camouflage canopy (photo by John)

Before a plane can be launched, it is positioned behind two posts while the engine is started up. Then it is carefully manoeuvred and backed up by hand before being directed towards the runway by radio control. 

This model is a Rumpler Taube dating from 1909  (photo by John)

We spent nearly an hour at the Aeromodellers Club, before heading back to Paekakariki. A quick stop for a photo of a newly installed seat overlooking Te Ara o Whareroa, but we didn’t linger. It had been a good ride (34 km), nicely side-tracked to do some mini plane spotting.

A new and very sturdy-looking seat overlooking the track (photo by John)

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