Tag Archives: flaxes

A visit to Makara Beach

In keeping with my recent posts of rugged coasts in my home region, here is another beach that is rugged, wild and beautiful.

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This Department of Conservation website gives more information about Makara and includes a map showing that the deep arcing Ohariu Bay and the beach are not too far from the most south western point of the North Island.

This is another west coast beach.   The very small settlement can be reached from either Johnsonville or Karori (both suburbs of Wellington). Either route is a narrow winding road with rural views, plenty of surrounding steep hills and roads that require careful attention and care.

After reaching flat, more open land the road suddenly offers a view of the bay. On the day we visited the day was crystal clear. The night before a southerly storm had raged but this beach is relatively sheltered from that wind and these high hills sheltered us from the icy wind that was still blowing.
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The surf was heavy but not as dramatic as it would have been on the South coast.
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The beach here is rocky.

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Banks of these rocks shelve steeply

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and the undertow is sharp and strong.

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This is never a safe swimming beach. The sound of these rocks being dragged back and forwards with each breaker was deafening but exhilarating.

A narrow walking track at the base of the high hills offers views back up the coast to the north and here, in the distance, you can see Mana Island and beyond it, the peak of Kapiti Island. The photo bombing bird is a Cormorant!

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When the predominant north-westerly wind howls this bay will take a pounding. Vegetation reflects the harsh, salt-laden, tough conditions. Flaxes, tufty grasses and Taupata do well but are stunted.

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Ocean currents bring huge logs and tree stumps on to the beach.
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Rock pools offer hidden delights but close supervision of children is needed at all times, given the strength of the sea.
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With so much natural energy via the wind in this remote landscape, there is a controversial wind farm now on the hills and from different parts of the settlement the blades of the turbines are visible. Up near this wind farm on the high hills are recreational options for the fit and energetic.

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I admire the local residents who live in such a remote and harsh environment. Their senses would be sharply alive all the time. I love visiting such wild spots with the exhilaration and beauty they offer but I much prefer a more moderate place in which to find my permanent home.

A Sunday outing to Heretaunga Park

A break in the bleak, wet weather saw me head out to parts unknown. My destination was Heretaunga Park in Upper Hutt.
I was not disappointed in my time spent wandering in the fresh, cold air. The sun was out at times and the breeze only felt in more exposed spots.
Upstream I came upon these two who appeared to be sleeping in the middle of the water.

NZ Shovelers

NZ Shovelers

I suspect they could rest on the stony bed. The male was very protective of his female and kept his sharp eye on me at all times.
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These are New Zealand Shovelers (Kuruwhengi), endemic to my country. Their beaks are much wider and longer than their more common duck friends.

There were plenty of Mallard ducks and as I sat watching the water and the ducks this handsome fellow came very close to watch me.
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Another couple were shaking their tail feathers displaying such an array of patterns and colours on their feathers.
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This couple were snoozing on the very edge of the pool, perhaps cooling their heels?
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No sign of ducklings yet but winter has bitten hard since early July. However this willow was just putting out its fresh, new, fragile leaves.
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A very different bird call drew my attention and across the stream were these brightly coloured birds. The Eastern Rosellas that I have been searching for, for a long period of time. A small flock were in the trees and in a flurry of feathers two of this group flew down to the pool on the other side of the stream and proceeded to have very energetic baths.
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So much movement and droplets spraying and flapping.
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A Tui joined them here.
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In a whoosh they all left and I heard the call of a Paradise Shelduck away across the soccer field. The walk was well worth it as I came across this Magpie, who was on the move away from me to join another off in the distance.
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The male Shelduck was honking in his deep, monotonous way but no reply came while I was there.
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High above him in the bare, wintery trees were more Eastern Rosella (In NZ from cage-escaped birds. Also found in Eastern Australia).
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After taking some more photos I turned and my eye was caught by the heavy flight of a Kereru.
Here is this beauty having a nibble in a Kowhai tree which is almost flowering.
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And here is the Kereru showing off its brilliant whiter than white undergarments…..perhaps pantaloons or long legged bloomers!
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With the light beginning to dip and illuminating the flaxes I headed for the car and home.
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Although I did stop and take this photo to illustrate that early spring is beginning….
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A waiting time

Tuesday was one of those surreal days when the usual routines are put on hold and breathing needs to be remembered. A family member required some surgery on a limb after a sports injury.

Tight time keeping was the focus of the day’s beginnings to ensure all instructions were followed and check-in was completed.

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Time then ballooned out into waiting, waiting, waiting. The clock was watched and minds wondered about the call to the operating theatre and when that would come.

That point of hugs, whispered words and a long ride away down a long corridor came. For the support crew time again slowed as calculations were made and fears were encouraged to quieten.

A walk in the hospital grounds had some appeal to help reduce the feeling of simply hanging around,
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to search out some light and colour,
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and to try sitting patiently in nature.
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Shadows threatened to seep in again
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but here were reminders of just how many hands were reaching out to help
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and fingers skilled at repairing and healing were working for the best.
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Relief flooded us all with the patient’s return and with a positive report.
Perspectives cleared with focus returning to a more outward view.
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A walk to the Lookout

We had a perfect spring day here yesterday. It was sunny, warm and calm. We feel we deserve some really nice weather after weeks of grey, cloudy, very windy conditions.

After dinner last night we strolled up to the end of the street. We live on a cul-de-sac and at the top of the street there is a large grassy, tree lined reserve, signposted as The Lookout.

When it was first established the views would have been quite spectacular. But the Radiata pine trees, the gum trees, the Pohutukawas and other natives have grown towards the sky and good views are only glimpsed. Nevertheless it is a great spot in which to relax and enjoy nature.

The flaxes are flowering abundantly, offering our nectar loving birds more treats. The pollen is visible on these tubular flowers and we often see Tui with pollen on their heads and necks after they have feasted.

This magnificent Cabbage tree is flowering abundantly. Some say that means the summer will be a hot one. We have lived here long enough to know not to get too excited about such predictions…..but we do hope all the same.

Fellow blogger Ruth told me that the flowers of the Cabbage tree have a beautiful perfume and this tree was certainly filling the still air with the most delicate aroma. Our native wood pigeons love the flowers and seeds of this tree. This tree would be quite a venue for a wood pigeon gathering to eat their fill.

The light was beginning to fade as we left the Cabbage tree.

And the sun set as we neared home.