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Thursday, January 22, 2009

Walk in the Wind

Last weekend six intrepid campers decided to brave the wind and walk around to Turakirae Head.  The name means   “headland coming down to the sea”.  Access is gained by way of covenant on private property and visitors must keep to the seaward side of the fence-line.  We can remember visiting the beautiful old Riddiford homestead which stood on this property.  It was burned to the ground in 1990 in suspicious circumstances.

We drove down from the camping ground, parked the cars and walked over the Orongoronga River Bridge.  It was easy walking at the start with the strong wind at our backs.   We had the  rocky shoreline on one side, and rough farmland bordered by the Rimutaka Ranges on the other. 

Turakirae Sign

The start of our walk

We soon passed the sign which denoted the start of the Turakirae Head Scientific Reserve, which has five earthquake raised beaches.  These provide a continuous record of geological upheaval over the last 7000 years.  The most recent uplift occurred in 1855 which raised the beach 2.5 metres.

imageAerial view of earthquake raised beaches

The rocks on the track made walking difficult at times as they moved under our feet.   There were a few New Zealand fur seals on the rocks close by the beach, basking in the sunshine.  During winter up to 500 seals gather here building up condition before moving on to breeding colonies.

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The ruggedly beautiful coastline

After a particularly heavy gust of wind which felt like hands on our backs pushing us along the track we decided that enough was enough.  It was time to turn around, head into the wind, and make our way back.  Bill was keen to show us some cactus that he had noticed earlier.  We clambered over rocks and around boulders and there they were, several lethal looking spiky cactus which you really wouldn’t want to brush against.

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Watch out for these spikes

After plodding along into the head wind which seemed stronger than ever, we were pleased to see the end of the track in sight.  We passed several young men in wet suits who were going to try their luck in gathering shellfish and maybe a crayfish or two.  Then it was back to camp for a cool drink and to rest our weary feet.

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