Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Waikanae


Thursday 19 November felt like summer had arrived – well, nearly. It was a gorgeous day, but still a little cool. We drove to Waikanae, where we parked – as usual – in the Otaihanga Domain.

We biked around the Waimanu Lagoon, where a class of children was being taught to sail little yachts (sorry, I don’t know the correct name for this size of craft). Conditions were perfect, with just a little breeze.

Half a dozen children at a time are learning to sail (photo by John)


This part of the lagoon is smaller and rather pretty (photo by John)

As we made our way to Peka Peka, we were thrilled to see the swathe of yellow on the sand dunes, with the wild lupins in full flower. They emit a beautiful sweet fragrance, that was evident all along the way. They are considered weeds by the council, but I think they are gorgeous!

A whole hillside covered in lupins

We marvelled at how everything – lupins, cabbage trees, gazanias, purple ragwort (another undesirable but gorgeous weed), even buttercups – seemed to be flowering so much better and more lusciously than in other years.

Flowering cabbage tree, Cordyline Australis 

So over lunch at Harrison’s at Peka Peka, we made a snap decision. We would go to the South Island very soon to see the multicoloured wild lupins in bloom that the Mackenzie Country is so famous for. And of course, we will take the bikes. I do hope we get to see the lupins in their full glory! So watch this space. Hopefully I’ll be able to put up some nice photos.

On our way back from Peka Peka, we took our time to look more closely at the lupins and to take photos. We took so many, it is hard to decide which ones I will use here.

Lupins close up

We diverted off Paetawa Road onto a gravel track towards the beach, where we were in the midst of them.

The lupin-covered sand dunes with Kapiti in the background (photo by John)

John’s top and helmet match the lupins. Someone suggested
he was wearing the Aussie sports colours. No fear!

We stopped at a seat by the beach, to enjoy the sun and to take in all the colours. The brightly contrasting purple ragwort, the orangey-yellow gazanias, the pink and lemon yellow ice plants, the dusty creamy-grey sand and the rich blue-green sea. What a visual feast!

The end of the beach track (photo by John)

Purple ragwort Senecio elegans

… and then there’s the bright blue of my jacket … (photo by John)

The ice plants have colonised the hills closest to the beach – Carpobrotus edulis 

On the way back through Waikanae suburbia, I noticed that many of the grassy frontages had been given over to the gazanias, which apparently just grow wild in the lawns. Some home owners had mown their verges back to boring old grass, but I loved the ones where the gazanias were allowed to proliferate.

Back at the Waimanu Lagoon, we just had to take some pictures of a pair of black swans, and their beautiful fluffy grey cygnets. How could Hans Christian Andersen have called them 'ugly'? And the cormorants (shags) were still nesting in one of the trees. Apparently the guano from these birds gradually kills the tree.


Mama swan and her babies (photo by John)

Nesting cormorants (photo by John)

Finally, we rode along the Waikanae River track – up the north bank, across the foot bridge and back down the south bank.

Coming up to the Otaihanga bridge (photo by John)

When we got back to the car, I chatted to a man watching his whitebait net nearby. I asked why the mouth of the net was facing down stream. “The whitebait come in on the tide and swim up stream”, he told me. Such an ignorant woman I am. I asked him if I could take a picture of him and his net. He seemed surprised, but was quite happy for me to do that.

Watching his whitebait net

We rode 33 km all up.

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