WEEK­END DRIVE

A beau­ti­ful fine Sun­day was the per­fect op­por­tu­nity for David Coxon to es­cape the chores by ex­plor­ing the Wairarapa coast­line.

NZ4WD - - CONTENTS - Story and pho­tos by David Coxon.

A good mix of rain and sun over the last month or so had left the Wairarapa hills with a ver­dant green cloak of grass. This con­trasted nicely with the blue sky as May and I headed out to­wards White Rock with a plan to keep the trip short and have the time to stop or take de­tours, mak­ing the jour­ney more im­por­tant than the des­ti­na­tion.

We had passed through Mart­in­bor­ough hop­ing for a cof­fee stop at a café in the sun, but there were so many other peo­ple with the same idea that it was all too crowded for our tastes. Skip­ping the cof­fee, we left Mart­in­bor­ough and its crowds for the coast on White Rock Rd.

At the top of the first range of hills we broke new ground by tak­ing Range Rd through the Hau Nui Wind Farm. This was a pleas­ant drive over a mainly well-main­tained gravel road, pass­ing a num­ber of wind tur­bines and get­ting some breath­tak­ing views across the Wairarapa.

Drop­ping down to the Makara River, we stopped at the T-in­ter­sec­tion for a quick cof­fee break on the sheep-mown grass verge. The map showed that the top of the T only went a few hun­dred me­tres in each di­rec­tion, so we de­cided not to risk end­ing up in some­one’s back yard and headed back out, get­ting equally spec­tac­u­lar views in the op­po­site di­rec­tion.

Back on the road again

Back on White Rock Rd, we passed the colour­ful school at Tu­tu­ru­muri be­fore turn­ing right at a Y-in­ter­sec­tion to fol­low the now un­sealed White Rock Rd rather than the sealed Tora Rd. The trip soon started feel­ing more re­mote as we passed a sign warn­ing of un­fenced roads and wan­der­ing stock, be­fore drop­ping down

into the head­wa­ters of the Opouawe River. With hunger nag­ging and very lit tle traf­fic, a nice grassy verge on the side of the road near the val­ley floor pro­vided a pleas­ant breeze-free spot for a quick lunch stop be­fore fol­low­ing the river the rest of the way to the coast and an ex­posed part of the reef of white rocks that gives the area its name. Usu­ally the fi­nal stop­ping point is the car park and in­for­mal camp­ing area right be­side the main mass of the reef, how­ever this time there was a tem­po­rary bar­rier across the cat­tle stop just be­fore the car park turnoff. While there was an un­locked gate be­side the cat­tle stop, this was closed so we de­cided to park up and en­joy a brief walk as a wel­come break from driv­ing.

We then spent about half an hour clam­ber­ing over the reef watch­ing the gen­tle surge of the sea through the rocks and en­joy­ing the mild sea breeze and fresh air. While I looked for pho­to­graphs from new and in­ter­est­ing an­gles only ac­ces­si­ble with the cur­rent low tide, May fos­sicked for in­ter­est­ing bits of flot­sam.

I would have liked to stay longer but an in­com­ing tide started to threaten our re­turn to dry land, so we re­treated to the beach and made our way back to the car for a fi­nal cof­fee break in the sun.

Chas­ing the sun

With the au­tumn sun start­ing to drop we de­cided it was time to head back for more “evening light” photo stops be­fore we lost the sun. In keep­ing with the day’s theme that the jour­ney was more im­por­tant than the des­ti­na­tion we de­toured the four km up Kai­waka Rd, fol­low­ing Po­ley Stream to the road end at an en­trance to the for­est park.

Even be­fore reach­ing the large grassy area at the road end, there were plenty of at­trac­tive places to pull off for a break. This would have been a much nicer lunch stop than the side of the road, had we known it was here – one to re­mem­ber for next time.

Con­tin­u­ing our re­turn to the Wairarapa, af­ter about twenty kilo­me­tres we had just about reached the end of the gravel when we were flagged down by the driver of an on­com­ing car, a small city run­about, ner­vously want­ing to know if she was on the right road for White Rocks, and how much fur­ther it was.

While I ad­mired her en­thu­si­asm I pointed out the dis­tance and road qual­ity she had ahead of her, and sug­gested that she might do bet­ter to try again an­other day, start­ing ear­lier. She seemed quite happy to fol­low my ad­vice.

Good time

Since my main hope was to get to the top of the hills over­look­ing the Wairarapa plains be­fore the sun dis­ap­peared, we kept mov­ing and made good time es­pe­cially once we got back onto the sealed road. We crested the ridge over­look­ing the Wairarapa still with plenty of sun, but un­for­tu­nately, although I had ar­ranged the time cor­rectly, I had for­got­ten to book a clear evening, and the clouds mass­ing over the Rimu­taka Ranges were within min­utes of block­ing the sun. I only had time for a few pho­tos at one spot be­fore the warm evening light was re­placed by a sullen grey, murky dusk. That was the end of my pho­tog­ra­phy but it was still a pleas­ant and re­lax­ing drive the rest of the way home with­out the sun in my eyes.

Over­all the day had been a per­fect re­lax­ing and un­hur­ried break – just what we needed.

At last – a glimpse of the sea

It couldn’t have been a bet­ter day for vis­it­ing Range Road.

May was fas­ci­nated by the sea­weed…

White Rock Rd fol­lows the Opouawe River.

“The” White Rock.

The rich, green cloak of au­tumn.

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