Te Araroa: Pukerua Bay to Paekakariki

The new Paekakariki Escarpment track, a recent addition to the Te Araroa NZ trail, has been open for a few weeks now and we’d been thinking about giving it a go. The fabulous weather continues and we decided that Saturday morning would be our time. The only concern was my football in the afternoon so we had to leave early, as it turned out earlier than we normally leave for work. We decided to walk north and this found us driving and parking up at Paekakariki Station to then catch a train back to Pukerua Bay to start walking. It also helped get Alayna excited, she likes public transport a lot.

Travel by train

Travel by train

Train station playing

Train station playing

Here is my ticket

Here is my ticket

Everything went to plan and we started our trek at the right time of 8:30am. The walk is meant to take 3-4 hours and we thought we’d probably be a little slow but would get back to Paekakariki around lunchtime. From Pukerua Station the path took us through some streets and then a small park before joining the new trail at the now closed Muri station. We had a couple of trains pass by as we walked along beside the train tracks and Alayna got a few waves and a small toot from train drivers, they must be a friendly bunch.

Escarpment Track

Escarpment Track

Lets begin

Lets begin

We were soon rising up the hillside and getting grand views both of the Tasman Sea to the west and the farmland and coastal scrub to the east. The stands of trees all bore evidence of the often harsh climate with windblown branches leaning away. It was a calm day with only a slight southerly and out to sea there were a number of kayakers out fishing. The South Island was hidden behind a bank of cloud but Kapiti Island was a strong, familiar presence. Every kilometre of the track was marked with an iron signpost, we seemingly quickly covered the first 2 kilometres but then the steps started.

Landscape

Landscape

2 kms done

2kms done

Looking down to the shore

Looking down to the shore

Views north

Views north

When we didn’t have steep stairs to walk up the trail was often quite narrow, winding around the hillside. I’m normally not too bad on this kind of track but with Alayna in the backpack on my back I was very concious of the drop to our left and I concentrated on just one foot in front of the other at times rather than looking out at the view. It was also good that we didn’t meet many other people for most of the first half as the steps and track didn’t have a lot of rooms for passing. There were a few small bridges but the highlights were two swing bridges that spanned valleys that rose steeply above the train tracks below. It was disconcerting approaching the first swing bridge with a dark tunnel entrance seemingly filling the view ahead just above the stairs.

Sihlouette

Sihlouette

Steps and the first bridge

Steps and the first bridge

Over we go

Over we go

Brendon and Alayna

Brendon and Alayna on the second swing bridge

There were a few steps

There were a few steps

After the second swing bridge there was a series of steps leading up a steep slope. We slowed right down, taking one flight at a time and resting before moving on up. At the top of this section we had a break and talked to some other people coming the other way who let us know that this was only a taster for what was to come. Thankfully the next step climb was a while away and first we got to walk through some nice stands of trees, the forest a quiet and easy stage to recharge and ready ourselves.

Some were very keen

Some were very keen

A gap in the canopy

A gap in the canopy

The longest stretch of stairs is called the stairway to heaven and it was quite tough to ascend. We were passed by a very fit older man who was counting steps as he walked, reaching 200 when he passed me. He got to the top of the steps and then turned around to come back. We kept going.

The stairway to heaven

The stairway to heaven

More steps

More steps

At the top and just past the halfway mark was a lookout with some good seating and a glorious view out to sea. We had some snacks and got Alayna out of the pack to stretch her legs. There were more and more people reaching the top, almost all coming from the north, and there was plenty of friendly banter and laughs at the top. I got a few comments on how keen I was to have carried Alayna all the way so far on my back, further on we would come across a few others also carrying children in similar fashion.

Feet at the top

Feet at the top

The lookout

The lookout

Brendon and Alayna at the top

Brendon and Alayna at the top

Watered, fed and a little rested we got our gear together, helped Alayna into the pack again and walked on. The way down seemed easier, though tougher on the knees. There were plenty more stairs but a lot of the downward path was sloped across switchbacks. Time passed more quickly it seemed and by the time we neared the end of the track we were in good spirits while still ready for a proper meal. Alayna slept for the final 20 minutes or so, waking up as we approached Paekakariki.

Starting to head down

Starting to head down

More downward steps

More downward steps

8kms completed

8kms completed

It took us around 3 1/2 hours in the end which we thought was pretty good considering we had stopped a few times. We had lunch as planned in Paekakariki and didn’t have to hurry which was nice. Then it was back to the car via the train station and Alayna was full of beans, revelling in walking herself. She was exploring, running around, playing with her shadow and the writing on the ground. So all in all we enjoyed ourselves, completed a challenging walk with no issues and in very good time. We’ll have to return once Alayna is a little older and ready for a longer walk under her own steam.

Ready for lunch

Ready for lunch

Happy times

Happy times

There's my shadow

There’s my shadow

A for Alayna

A for Alayna

Crossing the tracks

Crossing the tracks

The kiwi jumped over the moon

On a clear and still night last week I headed out for some astrophotography. Driving north I ended up at Paekakariki and parked near the surf club before walking north up the beach. There was a minor issue in that moon was bright in the sky and the light was not helpful when photographing stars but I figured I’d give it a go anyway.

The moon and the milky way

The moon and the milky way

See if you can spot the galactic kiwi in the above photo. For an hour or so I was wandering around the beach taking photos. The moonlight lit up the landscape leading to some interesting foreground illumination. A nearby stream provided some good subject matter with piled up driftwood and logs though the occasional slap of sand collapsing into the water left me a little jumpy.

The stream leading to Kapiti Island

The stream leading to Kapiti Island

At times the long exposures rendered the night time landscape looking more like day time with a starry sky. I’ll have to head out again and experiment some more. It will also be good to return with a new moon to see what its like without the brightness of the moon.

The bridge

The bridge

A clear night

Wellington’s Carter Observatory is currently running a photography competition under the theme Light & Dark. I’ve been getting more interested in trying astro-photography over the last year and recently bought a new lens (a Samyang 14mm f2.8) that should help me better explore the night sky and last night was the first time I have managed to get out and put it to use.

Once Alayna was mostly settled I was allowed out of the house around 10pm so drove north on the Paekakariki Hill Road. My destination as the lookout on the Kapiti side of the hill which overlooks Paekakariki and in the distance Kapiti Island. It was a mostly clear night with little wind and the waning gibbous moon was rising into the sky. Because of the presence of a bright moon I wasn’t able to get the sky full of stars shots I was aiming for (the bright light reduces the visibility of distant points of light) so instead I just tried out a few different things and got to learn some more about the new lens.

Kapiti coast at nightPhoto by Brendon & Keryn

Looking northward over Paekakariki, Kapiti Island and Roumati/Paraparaumu.

Paekakariki Hill Road glowPhoto by Brendon & Keryn

Looking to the hills east of the viewpoint, timed to capture a car passing along the hill road

As Alayna and Keryn allow I’ll be heading out for more evening shots over the coming weeks, I just need a well positioned and timed coronal mass ejection to light up the south coast skies with the Aurora Australis now :)

A long time between drinks

This blog hasn’t been forgotten, no matter that it’s been a few months between entries. Much of the delay can be attributed to Keryn and I buying a house and the rigmarole surrounding moving. Thankfully we’re mostly done with the moving lark, there are still a few boxes to empty and we’ve got one set of curtains still to arrive but otherwise we have a home and we’re happy (and warm, it’s nice to have proper insulation).

Moving hasn’t stopped us from getting out and about on a few occasions. Rather than bore with detail you can just look at some photos instead.

IMG 4832Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Watching a steam train firing up at the Paekakariki based Steam Incorporated open day.

IMG 4845Photo by Brendon & Keryn

And in action.

MG 6144Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Spoonbills observed at the Waikanae Estuary Scientific Reserve while of a walk with Kapiti Bird Tours organised through Adventure Wellington.

IMG 4849Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Still on the tour and checking out some friendly eels.

Small waterfall on Tane's TrackPhoto by Brendon & Keryn

A pretty little waterfall seem on Tanes Track at Tunnel Gully north of Upper Hutt.

ApproachingPhoto by Brendon & Keryn

The tunnel at Tunnel Gully

IMG 4910Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Sunset from Titahi Bay

IMG 4931Photo by Brendon & Keryn

And another sunset photographed while standing on the roof at home

IMG 4941Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Gandalf the Grey, one of the new line of statues produced by Weta for the forthcoming Hobbit movies. Seen at the Weta Cave.

MG 6239Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Visiting Kaitoke on a wet day.

IMG 4956Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Starting a photowalk with the Wellington Photography Meetup group, having just viewed the 2012 World Press Photography exhibition.

IMG 4970Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Take-off seen while out on the walk.

IMG 4977Photo by Brendon & Keryn

On the waterfront.

IMG 5031Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Back to Tunnel Gully, this time with Keryn, and we were solving a fern-themed Geocache.

IMG 5052Photo by Brendon & Keryn

walking through the tunnel.

Geocaching is a fairly new hobby we’ve taken up, fuelled by the enthusiasm demonstrated by Sophie and Travis. It also helped that we had vouchers to spend at FCO and they had a nice range of handheld GPS devices to choose from. Any excuse to get outside is a good one I reckon.

The Harbour Union @ St Peter’s Hall

In late September we attended another concert at St Peter’s Hall in Paekakariki. This time around we were treated to Lyttleton band The Harbour Union with support from Tiny Lies. The Harbour Union is made up of a group of like-minded musicians from Lyttleton who came together to record an album to generate some money to help those affected by the Christchurch earthquakes. Playing alt-country/folk music they lit up the Hall with their music and humour and by the last song the dance floor was full of happy people.

Tiny LiesPhoto by Brendon & Keryn

Tiny Lies with Marlon Williams from The Unfaithful Ways.

The Harbour UnionPhoto by Brendon & Keryn

The Harbour Union fill the stage.

The Harbour UnionPhoto by Brendon & Keryn

Songs and stories.

The Harbour UnionPhoto by Brendon & Keryn

Filling the hall.

On Saturday night

A return to Paekakariki and the St Peter’s Hall was on the cards last Saturday. We had tickets to see the NZ band An Emerald City play.

We arrived early to find an empty hall and a few people setting up so gave our tickets, got stars drawn on our hands to prove we were allowed back and then walked down to the beach to see if there would be a sunset. It was very overcast but the sun managed to shine through gaps in the clouds. We walked down to the beach and along to a concrete structure surrounding a pipe that emptied into the sea, taking a few more shots as the waves came in. There was also a retaining wall made out of old tires, black with orange highlighting from the fading light.

MG 1434Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Paekakariki beach sunset.

MG 1452Photo by Brendon & Keryn

The concrete pipe

MG 1485Photo by Brendon & Keryn

The tire wall

Back to the Hall it was still mostly empty but we decided to stay anyway. The bar had just opened, comedy ensuing as we had to stoop down to see through the opening to the bar area off the side of the main hall. The venue slowly filled up and then we had a performance from the opening act (named as Shipwreck on some websites). It was one man and his guitar. Hailing from France we were treated to what sounded like traditional French folk songs sung in fine voice and accompanied by lovely playing. It was a pity that some decided to talk through the songs, but I enjoyed the short set.

Next up was An Emerald City. Lined up on stage behind an array of instruments the band launched into their first song, the music slowly building up in layers of sound. All the songs were instrumental with only the occasional chanting or guttural vocalisation added to the mix. Coming across as a mix of world music & progressive rock the sounds slowly got people engaged and eventually there was a group of people dancing in front of the stage. We were seated at a table near the front and slowly found ourselves moving further back to give room to those dancing. By the end of the set most were on their feet and the encore, made up at the time, was enthusiastically applauded.

MG 1526Photo by Brendon & Keryn

An Emerald City

MG 1570Photo by Brendon & Keryn

People beginning to dance

MG 1690Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Dancing becoming more popular

MG 1730Photo by Brendon & Keryn

One of the more interesting instruments

MG 1731Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Playing through injury

MG 1779Photo by Brendon & Keryn

One last song

An enjoyable night ended with a quick walk back to the car. The good music, the warmth of the crowd and St Peter’s Hall a happy memory as we drove home

Down Paekakariki way

I’ve just started another run of night shifts and was happy to see that a few musicians I like were playing at the Paekakariki in the Park event at a time that meant I could get a decent sleep before driving north to catch the music. Running for the first time this year Paekakariki in the Park is a free community festival with live music, stalls and a few carnival sideshows including a slippery slide which proved exceptionally popular with the kids.

Chatting by the seaPhoto by Brendon & Keryn

Chatting with a sea view.

We only had a few hours between me getting up and having to get home for dinner and getting ready for work so it was good that both Rosy Tin Teacaddy and The Eastern were playing in the available window of time. We’d caught the start of Rosy Tin Teacaddy’s performance the other day after Jess Chambers set at the Summer Magic concert series. The Eastern we had previously seen open for Fleetwood Mac in New Plymouth last year.

Rosy Tin TeacaddyPhoto by Brendon & Keryn

Rosie Tin Teacaddy.

Rosy Tin TeacaddyPhoto by Brendon & Keryn

Billy Earl.

Rosy Tin TeacaddyPhoto by Brendon & Keryn

Betty Grey.

Both acts were really good. Rosy Tin Teacaddy had a few power issues at the start of their set but once that was all sorted out we sat back and relaxed to perfect sunny afternoon folk music (pity it wasn’t sunny). The Eastern were more energetic and after a few songs they had plenty of people up and dancing along to their lively sounds. It was very much a community event and everyone seemed chilled and happy, it was a pity we couldn’t have stayed longer. Hopefully we’ll be back next year.

The EasternPhoto by Brendon & Keryn

The Eastern.

The EasternPhoto by Brendon & Keryn

Adam McGrath.

The EasternPhoto by Brendon & Keryn

Bass.

The EasternPhoto by Brendon & Keryn

Happy crowd.

More dancingPhoto by Brendon & Keryn

Dancing.

Paekakariki Tattoo

Last week on a busy Wednesday I took the chance to go watch a tattoo be created on the back of Jules. I was even told to bring my camera if I wanted, so guess what I did ;) The tattoo work was done by Tim Hunt at Pacific Tattoo in Paekakariki, Jules was very stoic throughout the whole thing, though I missed the first half and actually caught Jules, Sam and Nicole at a cafe across the road having lunch.

Ready to continuePhoto by Brendon & Keryn

More than half done, Tim had just sketched on the next section when I started taking photos.

Ink over drawingPhoto by Brendon & Keryn

Applying ink

Jules was very stoic throughout the ink application, reading a lovely book of tattoo work while Tim applied the ink. I took some video as well, will have to play and see if I can get that on here as well.

Checking progressPhoto by Brendon & Keryn

Nearly done, Jules reads

Thickening linesPhoto by Brendon & Keryn

Filling in the last few bits

If I was getting a tattoo I think Tim would be the man to do it, his work was confident and the whole process was very professional. Julian and Sam were very happy with the results, and I think the finished tattoo looks excellent.

Check it outPhoto by Brendon & Keryn

One new tattoo

Sunset & St Peters Hall

Saturday just gone we took a break from packing and headed to the Kapiti Coast. Local songstress Jess Chambers was performing at St Peters Hall in Paekakariki and I decided we should attend, I’ve been meaning to catch Jess play for a long time but the dates just haven’t worked out to date.

We drove over the Haywards and took a short diversion past our soon to be home (rental, we move in later this week) in Camborne. Then it was up state highway one before turning off and arriving at Paekakariki. My plan was to catch the sunset and then find something to eat and the first part came together nicely, the sun setting over the ocean with some nice colour and some interesting clouds in the sky.

IMG 8416Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Sunset from Paekakariki Beach

Sunset lights the clouds over Kapiti IslandPhoto by Brendon & Keryn

Colour in the clouds over Kapiti island

Once done on the beach it was back into the township to find something to eat. We had planned to use a voucher from our Entertainment Book at the Paekakariki Cafe but discovered the opening hours on the voucher disagreed with the actual opening hours, the place was shut for the day. We had a look at the pub across the road but this didn’t suit (I was grumpy, Keryn was non-committal, it didn’t work out). After deliberation (i.e. random driving) we eventually headed up the coast to Paraparaumu and had pleasant pizza at the Mediterranean Food Warehouse.

Back to Paekak and we parked up near the Hall and waited in the warmth of the car. We saw other people entering the Hall so went in ourselves. St Peters Hall is next to the Church from where it gets its name and is a fairly traditional small town hall in that its of wooden construction, has a large open space inside and a stage at one end. The Hall also contains the local library in a partitioned section at the front, making good use of the space available. We paid for our tickets with a comment on the distance we had travelled “All the way from the Hutt, wow!” and then found a seat. There were short trellis tables set up with a mixture of chairs arranged around them. We sat near the back right and watched as the crowd grew to obviously larger than expected size. More chairs were squeezed in and when there was no more room a rolled up carpet was taken to the front and laid out so people didn’t have to sit on the bare wood of the floor. There were tea lights on the table and it was BYO, all very cosy and comfortable.

The opening act was a guy named Fraser Ross and he played inoffensive songs with weird little twists, the humour of his on-stage antics getting more attention than the music. He was entertaining, but I can’t remember much of the songs.

IMG 8446Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Fraser Ross

After Fraser was done Jess Chambers and Peter Hill were straight on to the stage. We were told that the PA system was borrowed from the Wellington Ukulele Orchestra and had been set up by Jess and Peter themselves. There was an awkward moment when they found out the left hand speaker wasn’t working but no one seemed to mind that much, the hall intimate enough that one speaker did the trick.

IMG 8455Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Jess Chambers & Peter Hill

Jess sang well, playing acoustic guitar while Peter filled out the sound with his electric guitar on some songs, mandolin on others. The country-folk vibe was perfect for a Saturday evening and the effect was only mildly spoilt by one lady who insisted on talking throughout the night. Not owning any Jess Chambers songs (other than some Fly My Pretties stuff) I was surprised at how many of the tracks I did recognise. The set was closed with the ARPA Silver Scroll nominated track Island which is a favourite of mine (which I do now own thanks to a quick itunes download). We had a good time and it was nice to feel like a local, if only for one evening.

IMG 8460Photo by Brendon & Keryn

And that’s a wrap