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Monday, 27 December 2010

A little bit of Ireland

We needed to go out for a drive to blow the cobwebs away and decided on a circular rural route through Apiti, and back down the beautiful Pohangina Valley.  First stop was the Apiti Lookout.  This gave good views of the surrounding Ruahine Ranges.  A herd of young heifers were crowding around the lookout platform, and they seemed to like checking out all the visitors who stop.
DSCF5058Young heifers checking out the visitors
This is also a good place for cell phone coverage, which can be a problem in hilly rural areas.  We noticed that everyone who stopped at the lookout had their cell phones in their hands and were feverishly texting away.
DSCF5061 View from the lookout with the Ruahine Ranges in the background
We travelled along unsealed dusty roads as we slowly made our way up and down hills and around tight corners, passing through the tiny hamlets of Umutoi and Utuwai.  Narrow one-way bridges criss-crossed over streams when we dropped down into the lush Pohangina Valley.  Driving in to the Totara Reserve Camp we were astounded to see that it was completely empty, not a single camper was staying there over the holidays.  This camp had been badly damaged with flooding some time ago and we wanted to see if any improvements had been made.  A large sign stated that a new ablution block would be built shortly.
DSCF5067  Totara Reserve
Further down the valley was a little piece of Ireland – the Waterford Cafe and Bar, run by a couple of transplanted Irish folk, who each speak with a lovely lilting accent.  We stopped there for coffee and cake and to soak up some Irish ambience.
DSCF5077 The Irish pub in Pohangina Valley
The bar is full of Irish posters on the wall and a collection of Waterford crystal.  I rather liked this poster of Irish Bogs – who would have thought there was so much variety!
DSCF5070 A collection of Irish bogs
Grand-daughter Emma lives close by so we popped in to see her and Michael, and met Michael’s new puppy.  She is so cute, but has no name yet, discussion is still being held on this important decision.
DSCF5078 Holding the puppy with no name
We said our goodbyes and started the journey home, over the hill road to Coylton, through Cheltenhem and finally arriving back at Kiwitea.

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