There are also a couple of photos of an itty bitty pretty spider further down - just warning those of my readers who don't particularly like spiders...
Well, it was a glorious day today, after a window rattling storm last night, and I decided to take another trip out to the reserve. This time I remembered what the name was! (well, I took a photo of it as an aide memoire...)
I timed it this time, and it is actually a whole 25 minutes walk from our door to the stile
(see what I mean about the steps up?)
The woodlands were as quiet as they were on New Year's Day, just me, birdsong and insects, including dragonflies:
The ground was a little wet underfoot from the rain of the night before
There was a real "jungle" feel to the bush.
And I wasn't kidding about the tree roots being used as steps:
The path was very steep at times
and after about half an hour of climbing, I came out to the same fire break that I had been walking in on New Year's Day (so, phew, I wasn't trespassing!)
The dusty ground was covered in insects (memo to self, next time take repellent!) Fortunately, none of them seemed to be biting (at least, I haven't come up in lumps yet...), and I discovered the reason just the other side of the sign post:
The view here was magnificent
and I played the "I can see our house from here" game. (unfortunately, I have better eyes than the camera - the best that I can give you is that it is just above the grey patch to the right of the white blob (which is Waterloo Station), just above the right edge of the track)
But there was still quite a way to go
and as I got higher, the views got even better!
The hills and the fire break path stretched off to the horizon
The hill was really rather steep, and there was always one more peak once I crested each hill, and I was very grateful to the man who passed me as he was heading down and told me that there really wasn't any further to go once I got to the top of this climb. "Unless, of course, you want to go to the radio and telephone mast. But this is the top of this ridge."
See what I mean about the steep hill?
On the other side of the ridge was Arakura
The fire break, being bare of any real vegetation, had a very interesting layered rock structure
Unfortunately, slightly crumbly underfoot, particularly when trying to go downhill!
I then took a look over to see how far the masts were that the man had mentioned.
It didn't look that far...
At the top of the next hill
It doesn't look too steep!
However, I hadn't learned my lessons from the climb before. Yes, it was that steep!
But this really was the last one
There was the occasional splash of colour amongst the green bush
Just the other side of the masts, there was a look out giving a magnificent view of Wellington
I then spent quite a while paparazzing a Tui until it got bored of hiding from the camera and flew away:
and decided to take a different route back to the one that I came up (and I did not fancy heading straight back down the fire break - too much of a potential to fall and break my ankle, and I didn't fancy being part of a mountain rescue!
I loved the way the different tracks were given names
As I got to a break in the bush, I could see the road that ended in the Reserve entrance - whilst I was high up, it couldn't be that far to go, could it?
I was glad that the track had been marked, as it was squishy underfoot and, at times, it seemed like I was actually walking down a stream rather than a path (fortunately, I only slipped once, and managed to keep myself from going over completely)
I kept on seeing this plant with orange berries. It was obvious that they weren't poisonous to birds (as I could also tell where the birds perched after eating them!), but I wasn't going to take a chance and see what they tasted like!
(a bit of Googling later, and I suspect it might be a Coprosma robusta karamu, and therefore not poisonous. I think I might have to get myself a book of edible NZ plants for next time I go out...)
As I headed downwards, the track changed name, and I wasn't sure whether I trusted the new one...
I could cope with the 'zig zag', but if I was actually walking down a creek, then, given the dampness of the path further up, I could easily find myself wading...
Round the bend I startled a Kereru (more prosaically known as a Wood pigeon, but I prefer the Maori name!)
Feeling a tickle on my hand, I looked down and saw this little fellow. S/he was absolutely tiny - as a guide to scale, the links on my watch are 9mm long...
(and, ooops, the time on my watch was the time I'd said to John that I'd be home... Fortunately, I had the phone on me, so I was able to give him a call and say that I'd be a weeny bit longer!)
Once more, I was glad for the sign that had confirmed that this was actually a track when I had to jump across a crevice in the ground.
I crossed the stream that ran through that crevice a further four times whilst zig-zagging down the hill - fortunately, that was the only jump.
Whilst most of the bush was varying colours of green with ferns and trees (very little grass), there was the occasional colourful plant.
I got to an interesting intersection - a T-junction where the options were down:
Neither looked particularly promising! And, whilst pondering, I did end up having the Zaphod / Lift argument from HitchHiker's Guide to the Galaxy
"We'd like to go Up, please."
"Have you considered all the possibilities that Down has to offer?"
"Well, the basement, the heating system, the microfiles. It may not sound like much, but it is an alternative."
I decided to go Up...
Then I got distracted by a Piwikawaka (boring name: Fantail). This little bird must be collecting the agonised screams of twitchers - it landed on a branch almost directly in front of me, called a bit and fluffed out its tail to make sure that I'd seen it, then waited for the little whir of my camera focussing, held his pose, then took off as the shutter clicked. And landed on another branch close by! I got quite a few photos of undergrowth and trees before I got a couple which actually had him in it...
Fortunately, Up was the right decision, and I emerged back onto the main track about five minutes later. Another five minutes down the hill, and I came to where Down would probably have emerged from, so I think I would have been ok going that way, too. But as it was close to quarter to six, and John had expected me home at five, I decided that I would have to return to explore that path another day...
I got home just after five past six - three hours after I'd set out - I think I've avoided sunburn (thank you factor 30) and had a brilliant time!