Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Hawke’s Bay Trip – Day 3

It’s over a week since I wrote up Day 2 of our Hawke’s Bay trip, but I still have to post Day 3. I’ve been a bit busy, with visitors staying, a big birthday to celebrate (John’s), and a quarterly journal to edit. Now we’ve got time to breathe, and tomorrow looks like it will be fine – at last! We may go for a ride, so I’d better get Hawke's Bay Day 3 written up. (I started writing this on Monday, and we've already had that ride yesterday.)

On Monday 1 December, the forecast was for changeable weather, and possibly showers from late morning, so we made an early-ish start. We planned to do the Wineries Ride. We’re not particularly interested in wineries or wine tasting, which is just as well, because everything was closed on a Monday morning. But the scenery is lovely.

We drove out to the Hastings Golf Course, and parked the car opposite the Bridge Pa Aerodrome. The track is basically a big square around the wine growing area, and we rode it clockwise.

Somewhere on Ngatarawa Road (photo by John)

Near the Ngatarawa Winery we came upon a little family of ducks, waddling across the cycle path. We were worried that they would run onto the road and get hit by a car, so we rode past them v-e-r-y slowly. In fact, John stopped and waved at an approaching car to slow down. It actually stopped, and the ducks safely crossed the road. They are so cute to watch – funny how they all change direction and move at the same time.

Ducks about to cross the road (photo by John)

The track turned right at the base of the hills. The sky was darkening to the north. (photo by John)

From Ngatarawa Road, the track turned right to run alongside SH50 – a long very straight stretch. We were able to get a close-up look at the vines. Behind us, we could see the rain advancing towards us over the hills.

A long straight stretch between the vines and SH50 (photo by John)

The vines, seen from up close

The rain is coming … (photo by John)

Somewhere along this road, we spotted the Roys Hill Restoration Reserve, across the road. We powered up the steep drive to take a look. There wasn’t much there apart from a look-out shelter, and we couldn't see what the reserve was supposed to be restoring, but the view over the vineyards was beautiful.

Roys Hill Restoration Reserve – the look-out shelter (photo by John)

View over the vineyards (photo by John)

We diverted off the highway onto a path that took us along the Ngaruroro River – according to the map, that is, because we couldn’t actually see the river.

Diverting off the highway (photo by John)

On top of the stopbank, after the turn-off

This is where the rain caught up with us. So on went the parkas. We could see the clouds scudding along in patches, and we decided to try and outrun this patch of rain. We cranked our e-bikes up to level 5 assist, and belted along at about 30 km/hr. Wheee! We have no photos of this, as John put his camera away. We got quite wet quite quickly.

We came to a junction and followed the instructions on the sign post, continuing on top of the stopbank. But part-way along, we felt we might have got it wrong. We met a man going in the opposite direction and asked where this bit of track was leading. It turned out it went to Clive. So yes, we were on the wrong track. We turned around back to the junction. We think that the fierce winds of recent weeks had probably twisted the whole lot of arrows around, so they were all pointing in the wrong direction.

Some cattle sheltering under a tree below the stopbank

Luckily the rain had almost stopped by now – down to a few spits …

We headed off towards Oak Avenue. We rode along the road for some distance, then John had to stop to take his camera out again. Oak Avenue is a mile-long avenue of oaks that were planted in 1874. The road is actually called Ormond Road, after a Mr Ormond who planted the oaks, but it is locally known as Oak Avenue – deservedly so. It was the driveway to the Ormond homestead, back in the day. It is beautiful, the trees are magnificent and very impressive.

The start of Oak Avenue (photo by John)

Oak Avenue (photo by John)

The oak trees are most impressive (photo by John)

Near the end of Oak Avenue, I was intrigued by some agricultural implements by the side of an apple orchard. They look like jet-powered space-age machines. Upon looking for the brand name "Cropliner" on Google, I found out that these are machines for spraying crops. Thank goodness for the Internet. How did we ever use to find out anything before Google?

Crop spraying machinery

As we were making our way back to the car from there, the rain threatened again, so we cranked up the e-assist level, and made it back just as the large drops were starting to fall.

We headed to Havelock North for lunch, and pondered whether to stay for another day or go home. We had originally planned to go back to Wellington the next day, but as the weather was starting to pack up, and the forecast did not look too hopeful, we figured that more cycling was not on the cards. We had done 35 km that morning, which was enough, so we decided to call it a day, and head back to Wellington. We were home by 6:30 pm.

We had the prospect of visitors arriving from overseas and from up north too, and I had a zillion things to do before they came. Visitors are always a good catalyst for doing some extra tidying and cleaning around the place, aren’t they? But we were glad to have been able to fit in a few days’ cycling before things got really busy.

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