On our trip to the Hutt Valley yesterday for our lunch date with friends, we got to drive on the recently completed section of the MacKays to Peka Peka Expressway for the first time. This part of the new road bypasses the towns of Waikanae and Paraparumu and alleviates crawling through the main road and getting caught up with all the traffic lights.
The traffic hummed along and we saw thousands of new plants and shrubs in place, the new walkway/cycle way running beside the expressway, and drove under some of the many bridges crossing this stretch of road. Concrete baffles have been placed here and there to muffle the sound of traffic noise affecting nearby homes.
Driving along the new expressway
We took a short detour at Plimmerton to check out the progress on the new NZMCA site. Looks like the dump station has been installed, plus a large concrete pad at the entrance, so that is a good start. Fencing is still to be erected, and we believe that a working bee has been arranged to tidy up the grounds. When this site is up and running it will be very handy for NZMCA members on their way to and from Wellington city.
New NZMCA site at Plimmerton
The Haywards Interchange is still a hive of activity with men and big machines everywhere. At an estimated cost of about $43 million, the project is expected to take about 2 years to complete.
Still hard at work on the Haywards Interchange
Fresh free artesian water
My old home town of Lower Hutt seems to be battered and bruised. The Town Hall where I used to go for Saturday night dances in my teens is being earthquake strengthened and the adjacent Horticulture Hall has been torn down.
Lower Hutt Town Hall
Then we drove past the Queensgate Mall which looks rather like a bomb site. The mall suffered severe damage by the 7.8 earthquake on November 14th last year which affected many areas of the country. Part of the mall was undamaged and was able to continue trading, while this section was being demolished and rebuilt. I must admit that it all looks rather sad, and there are many buildings in Wellington CBD which also suffered severe damage.
Clearing up the earthquake damage at the mall
Leaving these sad sights behind us we continued on to our lunch date, which was a bit like a mini caravan club outing. Don and Pamela, Eileen and Geoff and us two gathered at a local café. Don and Pamela have been out of action for a while following health issues, so it was great to meet up again and catch up with everyone’s news.
Happy campers Jenny, Pamela, Don, Geoff, Robin and Eileen
Plates full of Big Breakfasts, Salmon Quiche and Corn Fritters were delivered to our table. Followed by coffees, of course. The heavens opened up while we were enjoying our lunch, the rain hammered on the roof, and the temperature dropped dramatically. Living as we do now in sunny Levin, we had forgotten how much cooler the Hutt Valley could be and we hadn’t bothered to bring an extra layer of clothing with us. After a very long lunch indeed (we had a lot to talk about) we noticed that the café had emptied out and it was probably time to go to our respective homes.
Driving home around the Pauatahanui Inlet there was a new road of a different kind being constructed. Actually, it was a road for feet, walkers, joggers, and cyclists – an extension of the walkway around the inlet. Known as Te Ara Piko, the Wandering Path, the walkway is a Rotary Club of Plimmerton project with support from the Porirua City Council.
Extending Te Ara Piko, the Wandering Path around the inlet
Traffic slowed right down as we drove north along SH1 and we soon discovered why. A trailer carrying a digger had flipped over on the Plimmerton roundabout. We slowly drove past the trailer on it’s side, with a large crane in attendance to put things right. Oh dear, there is always something happening on the roads.
Yet another roll over at the Plimmerton roundabout
Our trip down to the Hutt Valley has been very interesting. We’ve travelled along a new stretch of roading, seen some interesting sights and enjoyed a nice lunch with friends. Its been a great day.