The plan was to take advantage of a crisp and clear morning to catch the sunrise hitting the snow covered peaks of the Tararua ranges. This saw me up nice and early and driving in the dark towards the Wairarapa, -2 degrees when I left home, -4 on the south side of the Rimutakas (with my eyes peeled for black ice, thankfully none was seen or experienced).
The plan was missing one component, the location for watching the golden mountain topping. Just outside Carterton I turned west towards the snow atop Mount Holdsworth. Getting closer things were looking good and then the road turned south and the view disappeared. When I arrived at the Mount Holdsworth reserve carpark I could see plenty of forest, not a lot of snow. Rather than turn around I decided to start walking and see what appeared.
There were puddles of water on the path, frozen solid. Later as I returned to the car all the puddles had been smashed (school holidays meant a number of families heading in to huts or out for a days walking) and the ice was a good inch think. The frost was fairly pervasive right throughout the valley on exposed surfaces. Grass, rocks, trees and shrubbery all had a frosty edge. I could see every now and again the yellow sun glowing on the peaks through a generally thick veil of vegetation. Oh well.
Eventually after 2 hours or so I came to a section of trail that afforded a clear view of the snow, so I’ll just have to get up earlier next time.
I took time to investigate the frost. The sun came up over the side of the valley and standing in the quiet I could hear the frost immediately starting to thaw. Vegetation was pinging as the heat took hold, fronds bouncing free of the icy enclosure. The shadowed side of the valley gave up some nice views of white rimmed trees before the sun came along and ruined everything.
Heading back I took a few more snow cap shots and then it was back to the car.
Next up I decided to find an abandoned house I had seen previously on Flickr and on the blog of Brett Stanley, a Wellington photographer. On a hilltop nearby the Aotearoa Stonehenge (not sure I see the point of that particular edifice, having visited the original) sits a house that due to a divorce shortly after being moved to the site was never occupied and eventually fell into extreme disrepair. I might have to visit again in the early morning or late evening, the location has fantastic views.