Tuesday, 15 September 2015


On Tuesday last week, conditions were finally right for a long bike ride. The weather was good and we had overcome our lurgies (John) and concussion (me). We went to the Kapiti Coast, as it looked like the weather might be just a bit better there. And so it was – spring’s here!

At the Otaihanga Domain, where we parked, we watched as a family of ducks waddled towards a large puddle to take the babies for a swim. Mum, Dad, eleven ducklings, and a few aunties too.

No fewer than eleven ducklings! (photo by John)

Ah, a lovely puddle for a safe swim … (photo by John)

While biking through the Waimanu Lagoon Reserve, we spotted another young family – a pair of black swans and six fluffy, grey cygnets. They must be well used to human admirers, as they swam towards us solicitously when we stopped to take photos. When they found we didn’t have any offerings, they paddled off again.

They came to investigate us … (photo by John)

… and then paddled off again (photo by John)

We headed down through Waikanae Beach, and onto Rutherford Drive towards Peka Peka. There is a little path that detours off the road, and meanders through the sand dunes. Several of the hill sides around a lagoon area have recently been planted.

New planting in the sand dunes (photo by John)

Reflections on a lagoon (photo by John)

We pushed on towards Peka Peka for lunch at Harrison’s, followed by a wander around the adjoining garden centre.

After returning to Waikanae, we followed the river track as far as the Te Arawai foot bridge, where we crossed and headed back along the opposite bank. Evidence of spring finally arriving was all around – fresh tender green on the willows, daffodils in the paddocks, a lamb or two, and the smells of flowering wattles, onion weed and freshly mown grass. When we got back to our car at the Otaihanga Domain, we had biked 31 km.

Since it was such a glorious day, we took the long way home by driving up the Paekakariki Hill Road. The fabulous view from the lookout makes for a compulsory stop. There was very little wind – just enough for an updraft, which was made good use of by a paraglider, swooping down to the beach and then back up overhead and down again.

The view from the Paekakariki Hill lookout towards Paraparaumu and Kapiti Island
(photo by John)

The glare off a calm Tasman Sea (photo by John)

The paraglider swooped over the top of us and away again

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Stars and Lights

I’ve “been in the wars”, but have “soldiered on”. On Friday night a week ago, I had the great stupidity of walking – at speed, because I was in a hurry – into a plate glass window. It looked like an open door but it wasn’t! I was lucky it didn’t break. I now know how it feels to see stars!

Seeing stars!

It wasn’t the first time I had my forehead assaulted by an immovable object. When I was six years old, I ran into a lamppost while waving at my friend on the other side of the road. It got me a life-long bumpy forehead, and two beaut, fortunately temporary, shiners. As I was on my way home from a catechism lesson, before my catholic first communion, this did not bode well for any future involvement in religion … (speaking as a, now, atheist).

Little first communion girl, with my bruise and shiners

Anyway, after my Friday-night escapade, despite feeling a bit foggy in the head, I went to the Johnsonville Scottish Country Dance Club’s 60th anniversary dance the next evening. As a loyal Johnsonville member, I couldn’t not go, but I didn’t manage to last the full evening. The next day, still feeling foggy, I sought medical advice, and was told that I was concussed, and that I should take it easy for a few days.

Dancing “four hands across” (photo by John)

The three most long-standing members cut the birthday cake (photo by Loralee Hyde)

Lots of willing hands help in getting supper ready (photo by John)

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The following week, we went down to the Wellington Waterfront to view the offerings of the Lux Lights Festival. Of course John had a lovely time with his camera.

These lights were suspended above the water in front of the Foxglove Restaurant
(photo by John)

A video was projected onto a fine mist, sprayed up from the water near
Queen’s Wharf (photo by John)

Hundreds of lunchboxes hanging from a tree in Frank Kitts Park (photo by John)

After the festival the 1500 lunchboxes were to be packed with food
and gifted to hungry Wellington children (photo by John)

The Michael Fowler Centre was lit up in pretty colours too (photo by John)

The floating crane “Hikitea” (photo by John)

This was called “See Creature” (sic) in Opera House Lane (photo by John) 

The colours in this window display changed depending on where you viewed it from
(photo by John)

Not part of the festival, but a new permanent sculpture
in Cuba Street,  “The Philanthropist’s Stone” (photo by John) 

These giant lightbulbs on top of a pop-up bar in a truck changed colours every few seconds
(photo by John)

The Star Boating Club and paddle-boats on the Frank Kitts Lagoon (photo by John)

The lights of a city building reflected in a puddle

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Trentham to Petone and other rides

One of the disadvantages of going on a biking holiday is that when you come home, you feel a bit “biked out”, and don’t want to go for any rides for a while. While our last escapade wasn’t exactly a biking holiday – just a few days’ cycling tacked onto the end of a week visiting family – we did bike a total of 205 km, which was enough to set up the “biked out” feeling. Added to that was the fact that John has been laid low by a nasty cold and generally feeling tired and unmotivated. And the weather has not been too enticing, so we haven’t done any great bike heroics for over a month.

But on Wednesday 5 August – yes I know, that’s nearly a month ago, I’ve been a bit remiss in writing things up – it was fine-ish, so we took the train to Upper Hutt. We had thought of biking in Whiteman’s Valley, and riding back to Petone. However, that day, the train only went as far as Trentham, and was being replaced by buses to take passengers to Upper Hutt from there. Not very practical with our bikes.

So we flagged the idea of Whiteman’s Valley. It will keep for another time. We found our way to Trentham Park, to get to the Hutt River trail. The park leads into a nice forested area, called Barton’s Bush. This is the largest remaining area of original native bush – lowland mixed podocarp/broadleaf forest – on the valley floor. 

The entrance to Trentham Park from Fergusson Drive (photo by John)

The track through Barton’s Bush (photo by John)

Once on the Hutt River Trail, we were on familiar territory. It was pleasing to see the progress that is being made in sealing most of the trail. Between Silverstream and Stokes Valley, there is a stretch of track, parallel to and below the Eastern Hutt Road, that is narrow, gravelly and up-and-down. It is my least favourite bit of the trail, and I was thrilled to see that it had been replaced with a nice, smooth concrete path. However, my enjoyment was very short-lived, as it only went for a very short distance, only to deteriorate into gravel and mud again. Oh, well – there’s hope that it will be sealed eventually …

Disappointingly this sealed stretch of track did not go very far (photo by John)

Closer to Lower Hutt, more of the track had been sealed, a very nice smooth finish, though it looks a bit messy on the photo below. I think it will look much better when all the mud streaks have washed off in the rain.

The sealed track near lower Hutt (photo by John)

With a small detour into Lower Hutt for lunch, we got back to our car in Petone, having biked 30 km. A good ride.

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We had a few short rides in subsequent weeks – a couple of times down to our local café with a meander around the suburb (9-10 km each), and a 10 km ride along the Wellington Waterfront on a lovely sunny day.

Not a trick photo – that's how steep Churton Park streets are (photo by John)

Our local café – "Thyme" – on Middleton Road (photo by John)

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Our next ride of any substance was along the northern edge of the Pauatahanui Inlet on 21 August. We parked in the Ngati Toa Domain, and rode to the Camborne Walkway. When we first got there, the inlet was absolutely flat, mirror-like, with magnificent reflections. But by the time we came to the end of the walkway, a breeze had sprung up and all the reflections were gone. We were lucky to have captured them.

The Camborne boatsheds and the beach at the end of Pascoe Avenue (photo by John)

Reflections on the inlet (photo by John)

The clouds just make this picture (photo by John)

John concentrates on taking the above pictures

After lunch at the Ground Up Café in Pauatahanui (they do a fantastic chicken salad!), we rode some distance past the roundabout on the Haywards Road, to turn into Bradey Road. We had biked here once before about a year ago. We didn’t have the e-bikes then, and the climb up the hill meant I had to walk quite a bit of it. This time, we sailed up the hill without trouble. This is a lovely valley, and I spotted wattles in flower, and daffodils along the roadside. Spring is a-coming!

From the top of the rise, the road becomes a gravel farm track, and unfortunately it ends at a gate with dire warnings to “keep out”. So we stopped, took some photos, and turned around.

The end of the road (photo by John)

St Joseph’s is a small historic church (built in 1878), opposite the exit from Bradey Road (photo by John)

Our total distance for the day was 21 km.