Friday, 21 December 2007

Out of Wellington...

Mark climbed out of Wellington, or "Wellywood" as it is beginning to be called because of the film-making connections, and headed for the west coast of the North island, and onto State Highway 1 along the Kapiti Coast.

This took a little longer than expected: as Mark says in his diary, following his visit to Vic Cycles:

Got on the bike at 11am and stopped for second breakfast after half an hour. Huge climb out of Wellington and couple of motorway sections not allowed on. Got lost couple of times and took road that ended on the beach once - beautiful but…couple of km backtrack. Sat on bike for 95km before a break. Huge side wind from east got up later. Pleased to reach Bulls and 155km total even with a late start. Found good place to stay and Turkish menu with delicious falafals.

The winds that Mark refers to show up on the MET SERVICE's Wind Map.

The highway skirts the mountains and follows the coastal plain, which widens to around 30km, with the sun rising over the Tararua Ranges inland and beautiful driftwood cluttered beaches to the left. According to Te Ara:

The Kapiti coast stretches 30 kilometres from Paekākāriki to Ōtaki. It is named for Kapiti Island, which dominates Wellington’s west coast.

The terrain consists of alluvial debris and windblown silt, overlaid by sand dunes. It was once covered with a mixture of dense coastal forest and extensive wetlands, but much of this was cleared in the 19th century for dairy and sheep farming.

The area developed as a series of seaside resorts: in a similar way to the development of East coast resorts in the UK to provide a destination for people who lived in the large cities inland. Many of the settlements are now dormitory communities for commuters into Wellington.

Out at sea, possibly in sight at the top of hill crests, or from Peka Peka is Kapiti Island, a national nature reserve. There will also be some road signs with which we are unfamiliar - mind out as they're the perfect size for getting stuck in your spokes !

The Otaki gorge is another location where the traditional outdoor lifestyle of New Zealand is made possible: rafting, bungee jumping, walking, swimming and fishing. It was also the location for Anduin in the Lord of the Rings movies.Driftwood beach by Flickr user Wei

Foxton is a settlement which seems to have taken its shape from the meander of the Foxton river which flows past it. The old meander loop has now been bypassed, but this has become the focus for a walk and the local website refers to it:

The River that runs through Foxton was once the main transport artery for early 1800 settlers. A wharf was located here as well a train station. The years of silt build-up has reduced it in size, but through the commitment of many people, the river is poised to come alive again. This will become one of Foxton's most utilized attractions. See it today before the ravages of time have been erased.

One landmark that would have been visible for some time on the approach to Foxton would have been the mill, built to an authentic Dutch design and a tourist attraction as well as a working mill.Image by Flickr user Squiggle

Just beyond Foxton, and 155km after he started, Mark reached Bulls, a small town which divides opinion. Some weblogs I visited referred to it as the worst place in New Zealand and that if you got out quick you were lucky... Of course the community website refers to it as an UNFORGETABULL place (as a fan of puns, I like this...)

It then goes on to use the word 'Bull' as often as possible - here's a taste:

Welcome to Bulls, an Unforget-a-Bull town like no udder. Our town is Live-a-Bull and Unforget-a-Bull, the towns folk are Respons-i-Bull and Befriend-a-Bull.

The schools are both Knowledge-a-Bull and Educate-a-Bull with the Kindergarten being Access-a-Bull to all the younger children. If daycare is what you need, they are truly Love-a-Bull and Care-a-Bull. For those children who are at home there is also an Enjoy-a-Bull toy library.

Check out the gallery for a taste of the town of Bulls.

Tomorrow, Mark carries on towards Auckland, which he will now leave a day later than planned.

Alan Parkinson
AKA "Mrs V"

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