Winter Walks of Here and There

Kina Cliffs and Beach Walk
We joined a group to walk from Ruby Bay to Kina and back one day in June starting at the McKee Domain at Ruby Bay. These cliffs are quite high and are gradually being eroded by the sea. I wondered have far the bluffs had retreated over the last one hundred years? They were probably formed after the glaciers melted and by massive erosion after that (debris outwashing). Now just high cliffs of clay, stones and sometimes fossilised wood. I didn’t find any but a friend nearby came across quite a large piece and gave it to me. What species, I don’t know and I wasn’t going to try and plane or run it over the buzzer blades to check either. Perhaps it might be one of the native beeches. We passed a property where they had adapted several uses for washed up mussel farm buoys, mainly children’s swings.

Wakefield: About 14 kilometres from our place, heading south is Wakefield, which was first settled around 1843 and it has a number of early colonial buildings still standing and still in use. One day in August we joined a walking group for a walk around the village.

Chatting to a new member of the group, who said that they had moved down from the Bay of Plenty, in the North Island. I replied that I had relations up that way and he asked whereabouts. I said, “Well, it’s only a small village called Waimana” He stopped and looked at me. “That’s where we are from,” he said. Needless to say, he knew all the relations of mine that were still living there.

We called into St Joseph’s Roman Catholic Church which was built in 1870 and we were able to have a look inside. Not that long ago church doors were unlocked but not these ‘progressive days’ so it had been arranged to meet one of the church people to show us around inside. Nice coloured glass windows and interesting wooden beams supporting the roof were the features of the old building.

St Joseph’s Church, Wakefield.

Continuing our walk along some back streets to come out to Baigent’s Bush to find the old totara tree that ‘the father of Wakefield’ Mr Edward Baigent slept under when he first arrived all those years ago. It is fortunate that this patch of native bush is still standing and cared for. From here we walked through Faulkner’s Bush Reserve to the hill top for lunch. Later we walked along to visit the Anglican, St John’s Church, which was built in 1846. This is New Zealand’s second oldest surviving church and still in use. It had been arranged for one of the church seniors to show us around and tell us the history of the place plus some interesting tales of the early settlers. One I remember was of two sisters who bought a car but couldn’t figure out how to reverse it. They got over this modern technical hitch by installing doors at both ends of their car shed.

Light at the end of the  Tunnel.

Light at the end of the Tunnel.

The Spooners Tunnel: The old Nelson railway line ran right out to Kawatiri and a bit beyond and it passed through under the Spooners Range. The rail line was closed during the 1950’s but the tunnel is still with us and is now part of a bike cycle way – the Tasman Great Taste Trail. After a lot of digging by hand from each end, the tunnel diggers met up somewhere near the middle at 2pm on 9th June 1892.

The total length is 1352 metres by 4,72 metres high and 3.81 metres wide. From the North end, the tunnel seems to go level for about a quarter of the way then heads gently downwards to exit on the South side near the Norris Stream. We walked through from the South side and of course with the ‘downward bend’ in the tunnel we couldn’t see any light at the other end until we had walked about three-quarters of the way through. The tunnel portals are lined with concrete at each end but the rest of the interior is lined with concrete blocks and bricks, handmade on the site, with small safety slots or recesses spaced out along the way. Now, there are reflectors lining the sides of the tunnel to help guide the way through. It will be good to bike through and along the cycle trail when it is all finished.

They say it is the longest disused railway tunnel in New Zealand – well it’s got to be something!
The Old Sow Walk

Rock outcrop nearby Old Sow.

Rock outcrop nearby Old Sow.

Old Sow is one of the foothills one passes on the way to the Wangapeka Valley. The forestry road starts off nearby the “Devil’s Thumb” and climbs up to the Old Sow summit and here is the Sherry Fire Lookout. It appears that it is not used as fire lookout now but more as a communication mast. It’s still 961 metres or 315 feet above sea level though. There was a cold wind so we walked along a ridge under a large protruding rock to have our lunch before heading back down. It is all private land with several owners, making it quite a job to obtain the necessary permissions to get access.

Whau in flower.

Whau in flower.

A Couple of days in Golden Bay
We drove to the start of the track to the Whariwharangi Hut in the Abel Tasman National Park to have lunch only to find that most of the trees nearby were gone. We were taken aback of the butchering by DOC just to make additional carparks. Okay, there is a need for extra parking but this is no excuse to do such damage. There were nice native trees that provided a little shade but now there is an enlarged carpark with most of the trees gone. Result – quite stark with no shade at all. We did have a little walk along the track passing whau trees just starting to flower with some native nettle shrubs here and there.

The whau grows mainly by the seaside and is frost tender but I do have some I planted up the gully. I did chose a sheltered spot in each case though and one of the trees seeded last year too. The wood of the whau is very light (something like cork) and the early Maoris used it to hold up their fishing nets.

Wainui Falls rainbow.

Wainui Falls rainbow.

After lunch we turned off to walk along a track to the Wainui Falls. At the start, the track goes over farmland but soon it follows along side on the banks of the river and through native bush to come to a suspension bridge over the river. Unfortunately we saw that someone had placed a lock on one of the wire ropes on the bridge. Love locks or whatever, we don’t want them thank you! On the way we spotted some flowering orchids and Libertia (New Zealand Iris). The falls themselves are quite good with the height ranging from 7 to 30 metres depending where one looks. I thought they might be about 11 to 15 metres high. A log jamb in the river below the falls made getting a good view point a bit harder if one wanted to stay dry. Closer and one was enveloped with a fine spray of water but a view of a small rainbow near the base of the falls looked good. On the way back the road passed under some very large rock formations, making a sort of natural road tunnel. No slow driving in an earthquake though!

We stayed overnight at the Motor-van Association Park at Port Tarakohe and before tea walked along a breakwater to find a number of little blue penguin nesting boxes. It was good to see some pest traps set nearby too. The port is host to fishing boats plus a number of recreational boats too, including one old time sailing boat. It rained through the night but early the next morning we left and headed for Tata Beach where we hoped to watch some shags arrive at first light. At first we were surprised to see the amount of beach erosion that had occurred since our last visit. Hopefully the shags would still arrive and they did. Not as many as previous visits though but still good to watch them. They come in onto the beach at first light, have a splash around and perhaps pick up small pebbles then waddle up onto the beach and wait. Do a bit of preening, have a little snooze then bring up the pebbles along with the odd worm. Once the stomach clean out is done, they all take off and the beach is silent once more. We just went back to the camper and had breakfast – without the additional after activity.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *