My Favourite Walk: Whar­iti wan­der­ing

Walking New Zealand - - Contents - By Dorothy Johnstone

A wind­ing, walk­ing, won­der right on the doorstep of a small coun­try town called Woodville

Walk­ing on the road to the top of Mt Whar­iti last year was an ex­hil­a­rat­ing ex­pe­ri­ence for Mau­reen Nay­lor, Jan­nah Pet­tit and Dorothy Johnstone.

Wear­ing sneak­ers and ther­mals with woollen gloves, hat and a jacket tucked into small back packs we set off on the three hour wan­der to the top. Al­though the tower at this stage was ob­scured by heavy cloud this did not daunt our spir­its.

The first sur­prise was to see fos­sils/sea shells em­bed­ded in a bank caus­ing the mind to imag­ine ei­ther the sea or river run­ning at this high level. Fur­ther along we were star­tled to hear gun shots, how­ever, we didn’t no­tice any ducks fall­ing, this be­ing the sea­son for the sport, while cat­tle graz­ing near the pond ap­peared quite con­tent and undis­turbed.

It seemed no time af­ter view­ing the wind­mills above us that we were soon level with, and then above these im­pres­sive whirring ma­chines. Try­ing to count them all seemed im­pos­si­ble so de­cided to rely on sta­tis­tics for that in­for­ma­tion.

Sud­denly, a rain­bow started to form but didn’t even­tu­ate and faded. With so much ac­tiv­ity go­ing on in­clud­ing aero­planes, and a he­li­copter fly­ing around plus the flow of traf­fic on the Sad­dle Hill nearby the time passed quickly and soon we were cast­ing our eyes down on Woodville, Man­gatain­oka, Pahiatua to the east with Ash­hurst, Palmer­ston North, Feild­ing and Kapiti on the west all ap­pear­ing like match box toys.

By con­trast Ruapehu and Ngau­ruhoe were mighty and ma­jes­tic in all their splen­dour. At this level the great di­vide be­tween the Ruahine and Tararua ranges was clearly ap­par­ent as also was the Manawatu Gorge and river. The Manawatu River is very unique in that its source starts north of Norse­wood and runs through a moun­tain range be­ing the Manawatu gorge - the great di­vide be­tween the Ruahine ranges and the Tararua range. From there the Manawatu River runs right to the west coast en­ter­ing the Tas­man sea at Fox­ton.

We stopped for lunch at the DOC sign in­di­cat­ing we were just three kilo­me­tre from the top of the tower. This last stretch of road took us an hour to wan­der. By this time it was get­ting cold and windy so we were grate­ful to have our woollen gloves and hats etc to ward against these el­e­ments. There sure was a feel­ing of ela­tion which was so sur­real when we reached the tower. The clouds had moved on, while the air was crisp and clear. We had “Con­quered the B”

It took us two hours to me­an­der back down to the real world, re­cap­tur­ing the spec­tac­u­lar views along the way once more which we had ap­pre­ci­ated so much as we as­cended.

Above left: The great di­vide be­tween the Ruahine and Tararua ranges can be seen across the cen­tre of photo. Above right: Dorothy Johnstone and Jan­nah Pet­tit con­grat­u­late each other at the top of Whar­iti. Be­low mid­dle The Whar­iti trans­mis­sion tower....

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