Summer days part 2: The Putangirua Pinnacles

Saturday saw us traversing the Rimutaka Hill Road with a destination of the Putangirua Pinnacles on the Wairarapa south coast. We were not alone in our choice and as we sat at a picnic table for an early lunch there was a constant stream of vehicles arriving and departing the pinnacles campsite and carpark.

It was a hot day with little wind and it was refreshing to enter the forest as we took the track up towards the pinnacles lookout. Again we had Alayna counting steps and also introduced a game of hide a seek with various family members dispatched ahead to hide. Alayna enjoyed pretending not to notice people ineffectively hiding behind narrow trees and would be smiling when we walked past her hiding similarly.

Grandad "hides"

Grandad hides

Waiting to be found

Waiting to be found

Who is behind that tree?

Who is behind that tree?

You can't see me!

You can’t see me!

We reached a ridgeline and spent some time walking up, down and around the ridge mostly in the sun and it was a relief to finally reach the pinnacles lookout. We had a good sit down, rest and snack after taking in the view and after a brief discussion headed down the steeper track to the valley floor. It was a direct track and I’m glad we hadn’t walked up it (30 minutes up, 15 minutes down).

Looking out to sea

Looking out to sea

At the pinnacles lookout

At the pinnacles lookout

When we got to the rocky streambed that formed the valley floor I decided to head up to the base of the pinnacles while everyone else started back to the car. We’d been seeing (and passed by) lots of families and groups of tourists and the again there were lots of people around as I trudged upward. At the head of the valley there were two different groups playing around with their drones, filling the valley with a buzz like giant bees. I took a few photos and then took off to try and catch the rest of the family.

Heading down-valley

Heading down-valley

In amongst the pinnacles

In amongst the pinnacles

Up a narrow valley

Up a narrow valley

I caught up with everyone eventually and found Alayna happily throwing rocks into the stream bed. Picking our path alongside the stream we were not long to be back at the fork where we had headed up to the lookout and from there is was only 15 minutes back to the (stinking hot) cars. The road was quieter as we drove to Martinborough, perhaps most of the visitors already heading home.

Playing with rocks

Playing with rocks

The south coast road

The south coast road

Summer at the beach

Summer at the beach

Ice cream time

Ice cream time

The Wairarapa visit was completed with ice cream at the square and we sat on a picnic blanket in the shade feeling content. The ice cream was wonderful and made for a lovely footnote to our day.

Summer days part 1: Otari-Wilton and Titahi bay

The last few days have blessed us with lovely weather so we’ve been out and about. On friday afternoon we took a walk at Otari-Wilton Bush. There was abundant birdlife with dozens of tuis and kakariki flying overhead, plenty of kereru around and also a pair of k?rearea circling around a tree on the other side of a valley. We encouraged Alayna to walk as much as possible partially by having her count the steps we ascended, she did really well and also enjoyed crossing bridges, throwing leaves into streams for races and walking over rocks whenever possible. We ended up at the flax clearing which would have been better described as the daisy clearing for our visit, a carpet of flowers punctuating the dry grass.

Crossing the stream

Crossing the stream

Family in the daisies

Family in the daisies

Daisy Alayna

Daisy Alayna

Keryn made Alayna a daisy head dress and Alayna chased me around the clearing while I snapped away. We took a few family photos after clearing some (but not enough apparently) of the more intrusive grass stalks. We had some of the gingerbread that was left over from Christmas and watched a procession of birds fly overhead. There was a large pohutukawa covered in fading but still resplendent red blooms and the tree positively humbed with its audience of bees. There was time for some silliness and then we were off back towards the parked car.

Fading summer red

Fading summer red

The happy frog

The happy frog

It being such a nice evening we took the opportunity to purchase fish and chips in Porirua and then head over to Titahi Bay beach for a picnic dinner. We sat on some steps near the middle of the beach and watched the people wandering along the beach, the paddleboarders crossing the bay and the brave few playing in the water while the southerly breeze keep the temperature a little cool. We attracted a growing flock of seagulls and Alayna took great delight in chasing them away, at least until the numbers got so great that they just circled around behind her. It was a very pleasant evening.

Titahi Bay

Titahi Bay

The seagulls were persistent

The seagulls were persistent

Alayna chasing seagulls

Alayna chasing seagulls

Raumati Beach

Keryn’s parents have been staying with us for the last week and there hasn’t been a lot of outdoor activity due to the rubbish winter weather. Today looked a bit nicer and with my football postponed due to the sodden ground we had a plan to head north for lunch and a walk.

First we visited Paekakariki so Keryn and Alayna could be attended to by Toby, our trusted chiropractor. With Alayna in a leg brace for six weeks early in life and Keryn’s history of back issues we figured Alayna could quite possibly have her own problems so she has been visiting Toby since month one. Chiropractic treatment for children can be a touchy subject for some but we’re confident that Toby is helping Alayna. Keryn has been seeing Toby for a couple of years now and has had better results than from any other specialist she has seen. Even I, who doesn’t really seek specialist treatment (for anything) have been helped by Toby with getting over muscle complaints from football injuries.

Next was a drive north towards Raumati where we had a nice enough lunch at the Garden Deli. From there it was a short walk to the playground across the road. This was Alayna’s first playground visit where she got to use some of the equipment. We took her down a slide a few times and then sat while holding her on a swing. The swing got some nice big smiles.

The first swing

The first swing

It was a little windy and chilly but there was a lot of sun so we headed down to the beach for a short walk. Alayna liked watching the seagulls and played with some sea-polished pieces of wood collected by Phil and Elaine. Soon enough Alayna was getting tired and it was time to head back to the car for the drive home. We ended up taking a scenic route as Alayna fell asleep and its always a good idea to extend her sleeps if possible, waking her up early by trying to get her out of the car at home just leaves Alayna tired and tetchy.

Raumati Beach

Raumati Beach

The driftwood experience

The driftwood experience

Beach antics

Beach antics

A flying visit

Last weekend we flew up to Auckland to visit Travis and Sophie. We flew up with JetStar and had no problems, there were more issues with Air NZ on the return due to a delayed previous flight. Arriving at the house in we got to meet the cats for the first time. Tikal and Denali are rag dolls and for less than a year old they’re large, almost as big as our beasts. We had a lot of fun watching them run around, chasing toys and playing on their tall climbing platform and crinkly cat tunnel. Being rag dolls they tend to not fight being picked up and their think fur is very soft adding to the cuteness factor.

On the Saturday we were driven out to visit the Muriwai gannet colony and it was an impressive sight. Unfortunately our visit coincided with what appeared to be a University field trip as there lots of students crowding the viewing platforms and they were all filling out observing the birds and filling out forms. Thankfully the students were moving around so we were able to get up to the railing to look down on the gannets below, nesting on the broad rocky hilltop.

IMG 5316Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Up close with a gannet.

A Muriwai gannet coming in to landPhoto by Brendon & Keryn

Coming in to land.

We could also see some fisherman braving the surf and casting from a rocky promenade that projected out from the base of the cliff. It was mildly distressing to watch as a fisherman failed to deal with a gannet he caught on his line, by the time the line snapped he had dragged the poor bird close into the waves breaking over the rock and it appeared that the bird damaged its caught wing. The bird slowly drifted out to sea, unable to take off from the water and struggling fitfully to escape. We saw another bird get hooked later on, this one being freed much earlier and still able to fly away.

IMG 5508Photo by Brendon & Keryn

caught on the line.

There was constant activity in the colony and gannets were always flying in, out and around. There was a colony of terns around the corner from the viewing platform and they decided at one point to all take off, circle around a bit and then head back to roost, filling the sky with a mass of moving white.

There were also lots of people surfing out in the distance, the waves being quite large and regular in the breeze. We stayed for an hour or so in the end I think, definitely worth a visit if you’re in the area (though the gannets are only here August – March generally, hiking off to Australia as the weather gets colder).

We then headed for a coastal drive towards Piha. The weather was pretty bad, raining and windy, only improving as we reached Piha. The journey was slow mainly due to an exceptionally slow driver who we couldn’t pass, and who missed a number of opportunities to pull into slow passing lanes. Very frustrating. As the weather had cleared we parked and walked along the beach for a while. The black sand sparkled in the sun

The beach at PihaPhoto by Brendon & Keryn

On the beach.

IMG 5670Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Keryn and Sophie.

Keryn’s parents had come down from Whangarei and in the evening we all went out for dinner to celebrate their 39th wedding anniversary. We drove into the city and had our meal at Wildfire, a restaurant styled on a Brazilian theme. Rather than have a menu at this restaurant you wait at your table and the waiters bring around skewers of meat and you have whatever you wish whether it be slices of ham/beef/chicken, portions of salmon, sausages, pasta (only there to fill you up so you eat less I reckon), calamari and other selections. I think we suffered for being close to the kitchen, some of the meat being sliced for the first time at our table and leaving some pieces more edge fat and gristle than lovely tender fillets. Still, most of the food was tasty and we had a good time.

This was the day Telecom released their new logo (“Make of it what you will” I read one Telecom marketing person say – sounds to me like they don’t know why they chose it, I don’t know either). Part of the release was a show down at the Ferry Building on Quay Street. We went down after eating (and after a walk up queen street for some Giapo gelato) and I was quite unimpressed. The projection parts at the start of the loop were quite impressive, bold video being projected onto the facade of the Ferry Building including such things as an ice storm slowly covering the building in ice and a giant breaking through the building walls before lowering himself into the water below. The later interactive sections were not so successful, the movement of people in front of giant light boxes not obviously translating into the seen projections. It was diverting but I wouldn’t bother seeing it again.

On Sunday Keryn’s parents left before lunch and dropped us off at a retail park where we met Janet. We went for lunch at a nice cafe which backed onto an orchard and ate while outside the weather went from wind and rain to sun in some sort of random cycle. It was good to catch up and we ended by doing a bit of shopping at JB Hifi and the Warehouse.

Back at Travis and Sophie’s we played on the Wii to kill time before heading back to the airport. All in all a quick but pleasant weekend away.