Winding Roads

Trip Start Aug 01, 2008
Trip End Dec 20, 2008

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Where I stayed
Seaview Campground

Flag of New Zealand  , North Island,
Thursday, October 9, 2008

Wednesday 8 October

Lower Hutt                         S 41 14.1'           E 174 54.7'

By the side of the road each time you approach a forest, there's a graduated sign indicating "Risk of Fire Today" - it's been solidly in the "Low" section every day so far. The same sign design was used to indicate "Risk of Ice" (I think) at one point I passed. Today, leaving the University town of Palmerston, the identical sign design indicated that "Risk of Facial Eczema" was also low! By the time I stopped laughing, it was too far to go back for a photo; maybe on the return journey.

 A similar story on two very dramatic sections of road: the Manawatu Gorge and the Rimutaka pass. In both cases, the scenery was dramatic, the road winding and precipitous and stopping at the most dramatic bits was impossible. The photos will therefore show the view from one end, in each case, not the most impressive section.

The Gorge takes an "A Road" through a steep-sided river gorge, with many sections of overhanging road, and a matching railway on the other side. The river is swollen and muddy and has many swirls and whirlpools. The pass would be Alpine in character if the vegetation wasn't strictly NZ, and includes many hairpins and blind bends with lorries at every other one.

My route took me from Palmerston through Ashurst, Woodville, Pahiatua (very pleasant wide street due to non-appearance of planned-for railroad) and Eketahuna. I stopped at the Mt Bruce National Wildlife Centre to look at some birds. The kiwis were interesting; they have them in very very dim reddish light, so they think it's night. After about 5 minutes dark adaptation, you could see them  actively feeding, mating and pottering about but they were certainly a challenge photographically (1.5 seconds @ 1600 ISO, handheld in red lighting . . ).

Then to Masterton, where I bought a dubious alarm clock (shouts the time at you) because it was the only one for miles. Subsequently discovered a specialist alarm clock shop about half a mile from tonight's campground! They may get a visit in the morning (or afternoon, if it really doesn't work). Then Featherston, the Rimutaka pass, Upper Hutt and Lower Hutt, where I'm camping for the night about ten miles from Wellington and the ferry terminal.

I see on the map that I'm very close to various parts of Middle Earth, including the rivers of Anduin and Rohan, Dunharrow, parts of The Shire, Lothlorien and even Rivendell. I doubt that Rivendell on the ground looks much like Rivendell in the movie, let alone in imagination.
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