Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Hutt River Trail – Seaview to Upper Hutt

On Sunday, this was going to be our last big ride before going down south for our biking holiday. We planned to ride 20 kms out on the Hutt River Trail and then 20 kms back. We parked the car at Seaview, near the Waione Street Bridge (to Petone), and set off at about midday, on the eastern side of the Hutt River Trail.

We hadn’t gone very far when we heard the roar of engines, and in the distance we could see what we thought were half a dozen jet-skis roaring round and round on a quiet stretch of the river. I muttered something about “irresponsible idiots”, but as we drew closer, we realized the things that were going round were much smaller than jet-skis. They were, in fact, model speed boats. They were probably about a meter long, and made a terrific racket.

On the opposite shore, we could see cars and canopies and a couple of dozen people – mostly men – standing or sitting in camping chairs, watching the race on the water.

The men are watching the model speed boats racing each other (photo by John)

This photo shows three of the racing model boats (photo by John)

When a model boat failed, it was rescued by a couple of people in a row boat, and brought back to shore. The photo below is out of focus, unfortunately, but you can still see the name of the model boat they are rescuing – which made me smile.

Check out the name of the model boat being rescued

After we’d gone under the Melling Bridge, John took us on a detour away from the river through the suburban streets of Lower Hutt and past the Boulcott Golf Course, just for a change of scenery.

We ended up at Avalon Park. I had hoped that the coffee van might have been there again – it was there on our last ride up that way. We hadn’t had lunch, so a coffee would have been welcome. But it wasn't there, so we carried on up the river trail. We stayed on the stopbank until we got to Stokes Valley.

A fairly uninspiring view down the track on the stopbank. Shona McFarlane Retirement Village
is on the right (photo by John)

As we were coming up to Stokes Valley, we saw a mural on the south side of the rail bridge which we hadn’t noticed on previous rides. We took a photo of the other side on our last ride here – although it was unfinished (I think), one could see that it represented kowhai flowers. The mural on this side represented kakabeak flowers. Both are much-loved NZ native flowers. There is also a mural on the bridge support pillar showing a tui, which feasts on the nectar of both flowers when they are in season.

The mural on the south side of the Stokes Valley railway bridge (photo by Jhn)

This was the end of the stopbank, and from here we rode on the gravel track, away from the road. North of Stokes Valley is the bit of track that I mentioned last time, which is winding, and gravelly, and a bit dodgy. Interestingly, I found it more awkward to negotiate when going from south to north than the other way. John felt so too. Perhaps it is to do with the fact that when heading north, the drop is on our left – and as we are both right-handed, we feel more comfortable with the drop on our stronger side.

Along this path there were – quite close to each other – a water-level measuring tower, and a cable way which allows hydrologists to hang in a cage above the river so they can measure the speed of the flow – at several spots across the river – by means of a suspended current meter.

A water-level measuring tower (photo by John)

The cage on the cable way allows hydrologists to hang above the river to take flow measurements

When we had ridden as far as the twin bridges at Silverstream – about 16 kms – I was ready to turn around. We would have done 32 kms by the time we got back to the car, but John thought we should be more staunch, and carry on until we had done at least 20 kms before turning around. So, on we went.

Further along, we rode through Moonshine Park, which is wide and open, with nice lawns and beautiful trees. It is popular with people walking, cycling, and walking the dog. There is a (limited speed) road through the middle of it, which is nice to ride on. It also seems to be perfect for the lazy man’s (or woman's) way of “walking” the dog – the human drives the car, while the dog runs alongside! We saw several cars doing this! So nice to get out and about to get a bit of exercise and some fresh air, isn't it?

The lazy man’s way of “walking” the dog! (photo by John)

We kept going until we were about level with Upper Hutt, where the river changes direction. This is where we turned around to go back. The fickle valley wind, which we were pushing into on the way up, had now turned around as well, so we still had a headwind. But because we were now going downhill, it wasn’t as much of a grind, as it had seemed coming (imperceptibly) uphill on the way up.

We stayed on the track close to the river – no stopbanks this time. It is gravel for much of the way until you get to Avalon. As we were pedaling along, I was thrilled when a man cycling in the opposite direction called out to me “I read your blog this morning!”. Wow! A complete stranger! He didn’t stop, so I couldn’t ask him how or why he had found my blog. But I still felt pretty chuffed.

We didn’t stop on the way back, except for one breather – chocolate break! – and later on for John to take a picture of a shag, which was sitting on a rail quite close to the track, near the Petone bridge.

Time for a chocolate break (photo by John)

A pied shag (cormorant) – Phalacrocorax varius (photo by John)

It was about 4pm when we got back to the car at Seaview. We had done 42.5 kms. I must say my knees, thighs and tail were feeling a bit sore! But we now know we will have no trouble riding our daily 45 kms when we come to do the Otago Rail Trail next week.

We finished off the afternoon with a stop (and an icecream!) at the Hikoikoi Reserve, where the Hutt Valley Model Engineering Society runs the miniature railway. The members build the model trains, locomotives, steam engines and traction engines. As well as enjoying their hobby, they delight lots of children by giving them rides on Sunday afternoons. By the time we got there, late in the afternoon, there were more adults than children, but there probably were lots more children earlier on. 

Members of the Hutt Valley Model Engineering Society run the trains at the Hikoikoi Reserve
 (photo by John)

Monday, 24 March 2014

Paremata to Pauatahanui

On Friday 21 March we went for a short-ish ride from Paremata to Pauatahanui and back, just 16 kms. It was fine, with a light cool breeze. We parked the car in the Ngati Toa Domain in Paremata and after crossing the Esplanade, we were soon on the Camborne Walkway. The Walkway is fairly narrow, as it winds its way in and out of little bays around the Pauatahanui Inlet. The surface is gravel, and not very level. It is high in the centre, then slopes off to the sides. As I was biking along I thought back to when I first started biking again, a year ago, and realised that I would have found this path fairly hair-raising back then. I now get satisfaction from being able to negotiate this kind of track reasonably well.

The Camborne Walkway track tends to slope away from the centre in many places (photo by John)

When we reached the end of the walkway, we found that the carpark was full of cars, but there were no people to be seen anywhere, nor is there a hall nearby where people might have congregated. A bit of a mystery. Where were all the people?

Then it was a few kilometres on Grays Road, with a fair amount of traffic passing us. John decided that the cars were passing us a bit too close for comfort, so he told me to go ahead, and he would follow me, after he had turned on his flashing rear light, thus hopefully making us a bit more visible.

We took a right turn into Motukaraka Point where the road is smooth and not busy. Very nice. Right near the entrance is a magnificent tree, which stands out against the blue sky. Just as I was thinking we should take a picture, John stopped and photographed it. We often notice the same sorts of things. I guess after more than 40 years of marriage, you get that way …

A magnificent tree at Motukaraka Point (photo by John)

The tide was in this time, so the birdlife was a little closer in, and we spotted a group of quite large birds in the distance. They didn’t look like herons – they are more gray than white – and I thought they looked more like storks. Then I noticed their long black bills, and I realised they were spoonbills. It was a pity we didn’t have any binoculars with us, it would have been interesting to have a closer look.

A group of royal spoonbills (photo by John)

As we reached the end of the boardwalk, we found that the roadworking machinery that had been there last time we were here, was still there. It appears that they are building bridge supports for the boardwalk – only one side done so far ...

Building a bridge support (photo by John)

Even though we had only ridden about 6 kms, we stopped at the “Groundup” café in Pauatahanui Village for a coffee, and some delectable almond pastries.

We thought we would see what the road towards the Paekakariki Hill was like. From having driven this road, we remembered that it should go for some distance before the road starts to climb. We rode for about half a kilometre, but then there was no shoulder for us to ride on – too hazardous, we thought – so we turned around and headed back to Paremata.

Taking a breather along the Camborne Walkway

Back at the Camborne Walkway, the carpark was still full, and still no people anywhere. But as we were riding along, all of a sudden we encountered a long, long line of children with teachers and parents, some with pushchairs. We stepped off our bikes to let them go past, and one of the teachers at the head of the queue said “It will be a while, there’s 150 of them!”. We should have stayed on the bench we had been sitting on just a minute or two earlier.

Well, that solved the mystery of the full carpark. They had been on an excursion to the Ngati Toa Domain – quite a hike for little legs!

We had to make way for 150 five-to-seven-year-olds plus teachers and parents
on the Camborne Walkway

Behind the boat sheds. This is where old kayaks go to die … (photo by John)

Instead of crossing the Esplanade at the traffic lights, we rode along towards the Paremata Bridge, and went down to the underpass. With the tide still high, there were several groups of people fishing, and we came across a couple of men who seemed to have got a good haul of kahawai.

I stopped to take a photo, and watched as one of the guys gutted them. A pretty messy business. He said you have to get rid of all the blood, as it makes the fish taste “too fishy” (which sounded like an odd statement to me – shouldn't fish taste of fish?).

Yuck! I’m glad John is not interested in fishing. Actually I was surprised to see that the fish had red blood. I don’t know what I was expecting, but I had never thought about the colour of a fish’s blood! I only ever see fish on a tray at the fish counter at the supermarket!

A good catch of kahawai

A quick detour to the edge of the Ngati Toa Domain, to catch a beautiful view, and that was it for today.

Sparkling waters off the Ngati Toa Domain (photo by John)

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Upper Hutt to Seaview and Petone

Having tried out, and enjoyed, taking the bikes on public transport, we thought we should take the train from Petone to Upper Hutt, and ride back to do all of the Hutt River Trail in one go.

We have ridden every part of the Hutt River Trail, but always in sections of about 10 kms in one direction and 10 kms back. So this time, it wasn’t so much a matter of exploring new territory, but an exercise in sustained cycling for 30 kms or more. We need to practice longer rides, as we will be riding the Otago Rail Trail in just over two weeks’ time. We will be doing 160 kms in four days, riding about 45 kms on each of the first three days.

So on Wednesday 12 March, we parked the car at the usual place in Petone, at the motorway end of the Esplanade, and cycled the short distance to the Petone railway station.

Petone railway station - we had to wait about 15 minutes for the next train (photo by John)

I had never taken this trip by train before, so it was interesting to see the areas we went through. We saw mostly suburban backyards and industrial areas, but also the motorway and the Manor Park golf course. We crossed the Hutt River three times and saw the cycle trail from a different perspective. The trip took about 35 minutes.

Having arrived at Upper Hutt, we dawdled for a moment while deciding which way to go towards the river. We were getting our helmets and gloves on, when a police officer came striding over from the Police Station across the road. Isn’t it funny how, when you see a policeman coming towards you, you do a quick mental check that you haven’t done anything wrong?

But he was very friendly and asked “Do you have a website?” I didn’t know what he was getting at, at first. Then, “Do you write a blog?” When I said “ah, yes, I do”, he continued “I’ve read your blog, I recognised you from your photos”. How amazing! He had recognised us by our folding bikes. He said he had found my blog when he was searching the web for information about folding bikes, as he had one himself.

Of course we were tickled pink! We had a really nice chat, and he told us his name was Louis – Constable Louis Diamond. He is one of the Upper Hutt Community Constables.

I asked him if he knew that a group of Wellington cyclists from the Cycling Advocates Network (CAN) was planning a Folding Bike Fun Ride on 29 March. He didn’t know, so here is the info. In fact they will be doing exactly what we were doing today – take the train from Petone to Upper Hutt and ride the Hutt River Trail back to Petone. But we thought of doing this before reading about them! It is a pity that we will miss out on this event – we would have joined them – but we will be on our way south by then.

Constable Louis Diamond recognised our folding bikes from reading my blog! (photo by John)

We rode off along Fergusson Drive. Before leaving home, we had looked at the map and figured out the best way to get to the River Trail. But of course we didn’t take the route that I had in my head. John just follows his gut-instinct – and I just follow John! We got there – and his way was probably a bit shorter …

We crossed River Road at the Totara Park Bridge traffic lights, from where we could ride down to the Hutt River Trail. But first we crossed the bridge into Totara Park, for a bit of a reconnoitre, as we hadn’t been there before. We thought we might find a café, but the local shopping centre was fairly unexciting, so we turned around and headed back.

The Hutt River and Trail seen from the Totara Park Bridge, looking north (photo by John)

No water was flowing under this little stone bridge (photo by John)

We didn’t make very many stops for photos, mainly because we had photographed much of it on other rides. But when we heard the sound of a bulldozer in the riverbed, we turned down a little track to the river’s edge to take a look. It was pushing the gravel out of the central channel, onto the edge.

The bulldozer is digging out the central channel of the river (photo by John)

All along the river there are signs that summer has segued into autumn, with the trees starting to change to gold and orange. Near the trees, there was also the distinctive fragrance of fallen leaves.

The trees are taking on the colours of autumn

There is a stretch north of Stokes Valley, that we have been avoiding because the choices are either riding on a very narrow foot/cycle path along the quite busy Eastern Hutt Road, or using the gravel track closer to the river. We first rode this section when I had only just started biking, and I didn’t like either of the options very much. I especially found the gravel track quite horrible, as it was narrow and winding and had a drop on one side. This time, when we rode the gravel track, I really couldn’t see what I had been so worried about back then. Much of the track was actually quite pretty.

A little stream ran across the gravel track near Stokes Valley (photo by John)

South of Stokes Valley there is a rail bridge that John had taken a photo of during the summer, when some contractors were in the process of painting a mural on it. From face-on it doesn’t appear to be quite finished yet, but looking along the length of it from the top of the stopbank, it looks pretty good.

The railway bridge into Stokes Valley (photo by John)

We stayed on top of the stopbank between Stokes Valley and Avalon. Perhaps not such a good idea, as the concrete slabs of the track are quite uneven and patched. The gravel track below might have been nicer. But we did make faster progress than we would have done on the gravel despite the bumpiness.

Coming up to Avalon, we saw some teams playing baseball. It’s not a sport you see a lot of in NZ (I suppose – I’m no sports expert) and all I know about it is that it involves a “diamond”, a pitcher, a batsman and a catcher, and people run around the field madly. I was impressed with the speed of the ball as it was being pitched, though. Lethal!

John managed to catch the catcher catching the ball … (photo by John)

At Avalon Park there was the welcome sight of a coffee van. We stopped to get some flat-whites, which came with a free cookie. The park was pretty quiet, and I asked the woman making the coffee if she was getting many customers in that spot. She said that a lot of truck drivers liked to stop there, as there is a substantial carpark, where they can pull up for a break.

“Smiling Windmills”, a sculpture by Leon van den Eijkel near Avalon Park (photo by John)

The silvery undersides of the leaves on these trees show up dramatically against the dark hills
 (photo by John)

Just upstream from the Petone Bridge, we spotted a large group of Canada geese (photo by John)

When we reached the Petone Bridge, we had ridden 32 kms, so I suggested we carry on towards Point Howard, just so we could make it a 35 km ride.

We actually only went as far as the Seaview Marina. Surprisingly, despite the breeze, the water in the marina was flat calm, producing perfect reflections.

The Seaview Marina (photo by John)


By the time we returned to our car in Petone, we had ridden 37 kms. Quite a pleasing distance. But ouch, my knees! When we were walking down Jackson Street in Petone, I swear I could hear them squeaking!

We were headed for a rather late lunch at Café Figg, but first we dropped in on the Scott Outlet next door. This is where I had bought my padded cycling pants six months ago, and I thought I would let the helpful lady in the shop know that I was very pleased with them, and that they had been an excellent purchase. She was delighted. She mentioned that she had a whole new stock in of Tineli cycling clothes, in both men’s and women’s sizes. So any of you people out there are looking for some padded cycle pants, head on out to 194 Jackson Street.

An interesting cloud formation over the Western Hutt hills (photo by John)

Friday, 14 March 2014

Anniversary – One year of cycling

On 12 March 2014, it was a year since we bought my bike. It’s been a great year, and I have gained such a lot in that time. Not only have we done some wonderful rides, but personally I have learnt so much.

When I started out on this venture, I hadn’t biked for more than 50 years, since riding my bike to school in the Netherlands. I was wobbly, not terribly confident, not keen on riding on gravel, scared of riding on roads with car traffic, I did not like hills and I had no idea about using gears.

Now, the wobbliness has mostly disappeared. I can steer my way around obstacles with confidence, I can aim my bike between narrow gateways or posts without hitting anything, and I can keep my balance when slowing down behind a pedestrian.

Wobbling does still happen when I am going uphill so slowly that I eventually stall. I still hate hills, but I can manage a gentle gradient for a sustained period, and short bursts of slightly steeper ones (though with lots of huffing and puffing and the occasional use of expletives!).

Gravel surfaces don’t faze me now, so long as they are not too rough or skiddy. The main problem with gravel is that it is hard on my hands (painful thumb joints), especially if it is going downhill, as I have to grip the brakes so tightly.

Riding on roads with motorised traffic is something I have gradually become less fearful of. My rear-view mirror is absolutely essential, as it allows me to see cars coming before I hear them, and can make sure to get out of their way. Riding on relatively quiet roads is fine, but I would not tackle riding on the shoulder of busy highways.

Gears – now they were a bit of an education and a revelation! My bike only has seven gears, but it took me quite a while to get used to them, having never used gears on a bike before. In the beginning, I would stay “safely” in 3rd or 4th gear, no matter what the terrain. I did understand that when going uphill you had to change down (as you would in a manual car). But it was several months before I had my “epiphany”, when I discovered that when travelling on a smooth flat surface, you could go faster for less effort in 7th gear.

My fitness has improved a lot. In a year of cycling, we have covered over 1,300 kms. Our first two-hour ride was 16 kms, and I was pretty knackered after that. We have gradually increased the length of our rides. Now we regularly do 25-30 km rides. My biggest ride up to now has been the Tukutuki Loop that we did while on holiday in Hawke’s Bay in November. We rode 50kms that day, and some of that involved quite hilly country. I was whacked, but also thrilled that I had been able to do it.

Now we are planning our next holiday (in a couple of weeks) during which we intend to cycle the Central Otago Rail Trail over four days, riding 45 kms each day. I am looking forward to that. We are just hoping for good weather!

Apart from the enjoyment of biking and the physical skills and fitness I have acquired, there have been other benefits.

It is a really enjoyable activity that John and I can do together. I have grumbled in the past over the fact that John does not want to go overseas and be a tourist. But now we can visit all sorts of wonderful places in NZ that are not readily accessible to cars, and get to know our own “backyard” better. You can see so much more on a bike than in a car! And hear the sounds (or the silence) and smell the fragrances!

I have also learnt to set up, write and maintain a blog. I had wanted to write a blog for quite some time, but I had nothing of interest to write about. With John’s help we ironed out some initial difficulties, and I was on my way.

Starting a blog has given me a forum to write. I enjoy writing “creative non-fiction”, as it is called. I have always been interested in language, especially well-written language. I am one of those awful people who growls at misplaced apostrophes, spelling mistakes and incorrect use of grammar. I am likely to yell at the TV when reporters talk about “less people” instead of “fewer people”. I am quite the linguistic pedant.

The blog has developed a lot. To begin with, it was meant to be just a brief record of the rides we had done, and of my progress as a cyclist. My blog posts have since become more extensive with the inclusion of photos, and have expanded to be more like travelogues or photo essays. The blog and the rides “feed” off each other, each providing incentive and motivation for the other.

One of John’s major long-standing interests is photography. He has always documented all of our activities with his camera. So naturally, he takes quite a few photos when we are out riding. Just as well digital photography makes it so easy (and cheap!) to keep on snapping. And of course it is great to be able to use his (and some of my) photos for the blog.

My photographic skills have improved too (a bit). I have just a little “point-and-shoot” camera that fits into my pocket or handbag. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to handle a camera that does not do the “thinking” for me­ – I’m just not that technically inclined (or interested). But at least I now take more care to frame my photos properly, and I have learnt to crop them better, so as to show a more interesting picture, before putting them up on the blog.

One further result that I am delighted about, is that our enthusiasm for cycling and my blog seem to have inspired others to get on a bike. I was really chuffed a few weeks ago, when one of my dancing friends posted a photo on Facebook of herself with a bike at Pencarrow, saying “First big ride on the new bikes”. A mutual friend asked her if they had been inspired by John and me, and the answer was “yes, definitely!”. That is fantastic.

Are there any drawbacks to our cycling? Yes, a few minor ones. As most of our fine days provide excuses to go out for a ride, the garden has been sorely neglected. And time spent writing a blog means the housework does not get done as frequently as perhaps it should. But hey, who’s worried?

I should really thank John for getting me into cycling, and for being so patient and encouraging, even when I gripe about how I hate hills. He’s made me challenge myself, as he challenges himself too. We’ve had some lovely adventures together, and hope to have many more. His help and computer know-how have been invaluable for my blog writing, and of course his photos are an important part of the blog. Also, it's very nice to have my own "in-house" bike mechanic and maintenance man!

AND he doesn’t mind if the gardening and vacuuming don’t get done as often as they should! What could be better?

Twin folding bikes - the source of much pleasure (photo by John)

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Plimmerton to Pauatahanui

Monday 10 March was another lovely day, calm and sunny. We wanted to have another look at the Pauatahanui Inlet, but just the northern shore this time. We felt that the road on the Whitby side was just a bit too narrow and too busy with trucks for enjoyable cycling.

We parked the car in Plimmerton and cycled along the southern end of Ara Harakeke to Paremata. We crossed the Mana Esplanade at Pascoe Avenue, from where the Camborne Walkway starts.

Right at the beginning of the track, there is a sandy patch where we had to get off and walk, and there, by a park bench, was a woman setting up her easel and paints. It certainly was a gorgeous view to paint. We talked to her briefly, and said we would be interested to see her painting when we returned.

A painter was just setting up as we went by (photo by John)

The track took us behind the boatsheds, which are really quite delightful. Having enjoyed the TV programme “George Clarke’s Amazing Spaces” on how people turn tiny buildings into amazing living spaces, I would love to have a peek into some of these sheds, just to see what their owners have done with their interiors. I wonder if any of them have been inspired by that programme …

Such tiny huts – I wonder what the interiors are like?

One of the sheds had been decorated with all manner of old boating and fishing paraphernalia. There were fishing nets, fishing rods and reels, a cane lobster pot, oars and paddles, life jackets and floats, a snorkel and a pair of flippers, the skeleton of a canoe, several anchors, and even a couple of outboard motors. Quite the beachcomber’s hut.

Fishing and boating paraphernalia decorate this shed (photo by John)

At the end of the Camborne Walkway, there is a pleasant park (photo by John)

After the Camborne Walkway, we had to ride on the road for some distance, until we got to the Motukaraka Point. At the entrance to this road there is a toilet block with changing sheds and information boards about the wildlife in this area. A large group of high school students were involved in a number of activities – canoeing, something intriguing around a circle of stones on the beach, and building a raft. They seemed to be having a great time.

A school party involved in water activities

Kids building a raft

The road around Motukaraka Point led us to the Ara Piko boardwalk, which meanders along the edge of the Pauatahanui Wildlife Reserve’s wetlands, parallel to Grays Road. It looks like the boardwalk is being extended, or at least the shoulder of the road is being widened, as there were roadworks along the rest of the road until we got to Pauatahanui Village. Either way, it will be good for cyclists.

A bridge over one of the streams feeding into the Inlet

The road gang is either extending the boardwalk, or widening the road shoulder (photo by John)

We stopped at the village café, “Groundup”, for coffee and a scone. As we were waiting for our coffees to arrive, another cyclist pulled up – she had been cycling around the hills of Whitby, and looked pretty hot and tired. She lived in the area, and she pointed out the driveway up to the little historic church that we wanted to take a look at.

The hill on which this lovely little church stands was originally the site of a Māori fighting pā, established by Te Rangihaeata in the 1840s. After his withdrawal, the land was bought for farming by Thomas Hollis Stace, who later donated an acre to the Pauatahanui community for a chapel and burial grounds. The first chapel was built in 1857. This gradually deteriorated, and the current church, St Alban’s, was built in 1895.

Historic St Alban’s Church was built in 1895 (photo by John)

I was intrigued by the fact that this little church has “buttresses” along the side walls. I wondered whether they were a structural necessity, or merely an imitation of the great churches in “the old country”?

I found a reference to them in the Historic Places Trust register, which describes the building as "A simple Gothic Revival church, the building has lancet windows, external timber-framed buttresses and, in the interior, scissor trusses with knee braces. The apse is semi-circular in plan. In general the building is timber-framed, with rusticated weatherboards on the exterior and tongue and groove lining in the interior. It has a steeply pitch corrugated iron roof."

The little church has wooden buttresses

There are two parts to the burial grounds. One is right next to the church – fairly plain, with graves having only headstones and concrete covers. The other is a bit further down the hill and the graves are surrounded by ornate fences and little gardens. This cemetery was neglected for many years, until in 1991, a group of local women started the Pauatahanui Burial Ground Rose Project – salvaging many of the original roses and planting more heritage roses.

We had a wander around the burial ground, looking at the old grave stones and the little gardens that surround them. At this time of year, many of the rose bushes were heavy with rose hips.

One of the Heritage Roses in the Pauatahanui Burial Ground (photo by John)

Many of the graves are surrounded by ornate fences

We returned the same way as we had come, through the Wildlife Reserve. At one of the little bridges, we were surprised by a heron standing right in the middle of it. He stood absolutely still, while John got his camera ready, then he stepped up onto the edge of the bridge, and fluttered off into the stream below. But John managed to get a shot of him.

This heron was not particularly worried by us (photo by John)

We saw two other herons on this ride. One crossed the path right in front of us, when we were riding on the path along the railway line, between Plimmerton and Paremata. The other was standing quite still in a stream in the reserve. They are beautiful birds, rather elegant, and quite large.

This track is called Te Ara Piko – The Meandering Path (photo by John)

When we got back to the end of the Camborne Walkway, we met the painter again. Unfortunately we arrived just in time to see the painting being blown off the easel by a gust of wind, while she had her back turned. It landed face-down in the sand. What a pity. It looked like a lovely painting too. I hope she was able to salvage it.

The painter is wiping the sand off her work after it was blown off her easel (photo by John)

We arrived back at Paremata, where we sat on a seat looking out over the Inlet for a little while, and nibbled on some apple slices. Meanwhile, a scrummage of seagulls was happening in the carpark behind us, where a man was sitting in his car, throwing out bits of food for the seagulls (fish ‘n chips, I think). The gulls were even sitting on the car’s bonnet and wing mirror, and screeching horribly. Not my favourite kind of bird, these red-beaked gulls.

The peace of the view was marred by the noise of the seagulls behind us (photo by John)

Soon after, we rode under the Paremata Bridge, and back to Plimmerton, but instead of heading back to the car, we kept going towards Karehana Bay and Horoeka Marae – just to complete the 20kms. In fact, we ended up having biked 23 kms by the time we got back to the car.

Beyond Mana Island you can clearly see the South Island (photo by John)