Saturday, 30 May 2015

Miramar Peninsula and Ataturk Memorial

Brrr, it’s been cold in the last few days! A fierce southerly storm dropped a pack of snow on Otago and Southland, and here in Wellington, it’s just been darn cold! Tuesday 26 May was a very chilly, but beautiful clear, calm day. The sort of day Wellington often gets after a southerly. Perfect for a bike ride, so long as you wear plenty of layers.

We had been trying to think of a different place to explore – we’re getting a bit bored with the “same old, same old” – and in the middle of the night, John had a brain wave. We could bike up through the streets of Miramar, and go to the Ataturk Memorial, which looks out over Cook Strait.

On the way into town, I commented to John on how calm the harbour looked, considering there had been reports on TV the previous night of very rough seas. There certainly didn’t seem to be any evidence of it.

We parked at Greta Point, and biked around Evans Bay. At the corner with Cobham Drive, we were pleased to see that the Zephyrometer has been re-installed in its rightful place, after having undergone repairs. Last year, during a sudden thunder storm, the beautiful kinetic sculpture was zapped by bolt of lightning, which effectively fried it. I wrote about it in my blog post of 6 September 2014.

The Zephyrometer - seen from below (photo by John)

We wended our way into Miramar and up the hill, up Strathmore Avenue and Sidlaw Street. Having the e-bikes made the hills considerably easier to climb. We had a few wrong turns, then pulled up at a small reserve between houses, from where we had a grand view over Reef Bay and Pencarrow. Barrett Reef, in the foreground, is the notorious reef struck by the Interisland ferry Wahine during Wellington’s worst ever storm in 1968, which caused her to sink in Wellington Harbour several hours later.

The entrance to Wellington Harbour, with Barrett Reef in the foreground, and Pencarrow Head opposite (photo by John)

We turned around and should have gone into Bowers Crescent, but didn’t because it said “no exit”. We carried on up Ahuriri Street. We could see the road that we wanted to go up to get to the Ataturk Memorial, but frustratingly, a locked gate blocked the way.

However, luck was with us. Just then, an official vehicle (Airport? Wellington Electricity? Don’t remember) pulled up on the other side of the gate. The man who got out to unlock the gate thought that public access to the Memorial was from the Moa Point Road below, but John was sure there had to be a way across the top. He’d seen it on the map. Then the man said we could go through the gate, as that road would eventually take us there. “But you may not be able to ride your bike on some of it”, he added. Having ascertained that it was not illegal for us to go there, we decided to take the chance that we might have to walk some of it.

The route we should have taken (North is on the right of the photo)

As we climbed to the top of that little road (the top left loop on the photo above), we could hear the sea before we could see it. Then we were at the crest of the hill, and we were looking over the airport to the right, and out over Cook Strait to the left. It was an amazing sight: the waves were huge, no wonder we could hear them, even though they were a long way down below us. Here were the rough seas that we had heard about on the TV news.

Huge waves rolling into Lyall Bay (photo by John)

The waves were pounding the breakwater by the airport and crashing onto the beach (photo by John)

Boiling seas at the entrance to Lyall Bay (photo by John)

Later, the media reported on these massive waves at Lyall Bay, and about a foolish young man taking risks by getting too close.

Turning the other way we could see the Ataturk Memorial below (photo by John)

The Ataturk Memorial is set in a large reserve, and a gravel road leads to it from the end of Bowers Crescent. From here we looked across to Pencarrow and Baring Head. Further to the left, we could see a sprinkling of snow on the top of the Orongorongo Ranges.

Pencarrow and Baring Head (photo by John)

Looking out to Cook Strait, with the faint outline of the South Island in the distance (photo by John)

Moa Point Road below, and the South Island with the snowy Kaikouras (photo by John)

The Ataturk Memorial stands on a ridge overlooking Cook Strait. As I was writing this up, I wondered why this memorial was built. It seems appropriate to learn something about this, since NZ has recently – on Anzac Day – commemorated 100 years since the WWI Gallipoli campaign.

The memorial was built as a reciprocal gesture in 1990, after the Turkish Government renamed as “Anzac Cove”, the place where so many Australian and New Zealand troops died during that battle. The Wellington site was chosen for its remarkable likeness to the landscape of the Gallipoli Peninsula.

The Ataturk Memorial

The words of Kemal Ataturk are read by the Turkish Ambassador during
the wreath laying ceremony on Anzac Day, each year (photo by John)

The view from the memorial was stunning. The waves breaking over the offshore rocks seemed to create a chevron pattern around the obstruction.

A chevron of waves around off-shore rocks (photo by John)

Having taken a gazillion photos from the top of the ridge, we rode down the nice smooth path to the bottom to take more photos from the Moa Point Road. We rode around the next corner and stopped by the side of the road, near another outcrop of rocks, around which the waves were heaving and crashing.

Huge waves crashing around the rocks (photo by John)

We decided not to go any further round, so we pedalled back towards the city. At Breaker Bay, we could see how appropriate that name is, as the breakers had broken over the road, leaving behind rocks and other debris. Further up the road, before the Pass of Branda, I had never seen the tide up this high on the beach.

Breaker Bay Road (photo by John)

The road is covered in debris left behind by the breakers

The tide is way up on Breaker Bay beach (photo by John)

Even Scorching Bay, which is a, normally well-frequented, safe swimming beach on the harbour side of the Miramar Peninsula, had impressive waves rolling in.

Scorching Bay – the waves are more sedate, but still impressive (photo by John)

We stopped at the Scorch-O-Rama Café, for some late lunch. For once, there were no cars parked in the car pad next to the café, so we were able to take some photos of the wonderfully whimsical decorations there.

The paua courtyard next to the Scorch-O-Rama Café (photo by John)

And lots more paua

Now that we were on the harbour side of the peninsula, the water was a lot more peaceful. In one little bay, we spotted some shags (cormorants) and an oystercatcher companionably sitting on a rock.

Shags and an oystercatcher (photo by John)

As we rode into Shelly Bay, we could not resist taking some photos of the sadly rotting jetty. I wonder what will happen to this pretty former air force base if and when it becomes a new housing area, as some property developers would like to think it could be.

The remains of the old jetty at Shelly Bay

Jetties at Shelly Bay (photo by John)

And so, back to the car, and home. We rode 30 km on this glorious, winter Wellington day.

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