Makara Beach, New Zealand – June 10, 2018
A couple of weekends ago, as Leslie and I were driving to the parking area for Red Rocks, I saw a sign that piqued my interest; “wind turbine.” The words were on a sign in the Brooklyn neighborhood. It was a brown sign which implies an attraction. I wanted to go for a walk, and I thought that might be interesting.
I began to look at Mr. Google’s map to see the location of the wind turbine. After I found it, I remembered seeing a wind turbine farm from the air when returning from one of my trips. I thought seeing several wind turbines at one time would be more interesting than just seeing one. Looking around some more, I stumbled upon the town of Makara and Makara Beach. Since I love to walk on the beach, I decided that was the place to go.
Leslie did not feel like going with me, but she said I was welcome to go. I hopped in the car, told TomTom where I wanted to go and pulled out of the driveway.
By road, Makara Beach is only 30 kilometers (18 miles) from our home. The route TomTom chose sent me through the suburb of Johnsonville. When I reached Ohariu Valley Road, it was like I had left urban Wellington 100 kilometers behind. I instantly found my self in a green, fertile valley dotted with horse, cow, and sheep properties.
Several kilometers into the journey, the road name changes to Takarau Gorge Road. The emphasis should be on the word “gorge.” The road narrows down to the point that two vehicles can barely pass each other. There are several spots where the way is really only one-lane wide. At several locations, painted on the road, were the words “one-lane bridge.” I thought to myself that was an understatement since the entire way seemed to be one-lane. Regardless, even passing several cars driving the opposite direction, I made it through the Takarau Gorge unscathed.
The gorge is visually stunning. The Makara Stream adds to the picturesque feel of the canyon. If there had been places to pull off the road safely, I would have taken several photographs.
As I negotiated the final curve in the road before I saw the ocean, I noticed the house on the curve had a fence completely covered in paua shells. Since Leslie and I have such a fondness for paua shells, I knew I would need to photograph the fence. But first, I thought it was much more prudent to get a cup of coffee.
About 50 meters from the beach, I saw the Makara Beach Café. I drove to the beach, made a U-turn, and parked in front of the café. I was not quite sure if the restaurant was open, but then I saw several people with motorcycle helmets standing near the entrance drinking coffee. I got out of the car and walked to the service window.
The nicest woman, Philippa, was at the window. She took my order for a long black. While she was fulfilling the request, she talked to me about photography (she saw the camera around my neck). She also helped me hone my pronunciation of Makara. There was a distinct difference between her pronunciation and mine.
When I finished my coffee, I decided it was time to walk back to the home with the paua shell fence. As I walked the short distance, I noticed the people I had seen drinking coffee. They were standing near a group of motor scooters. I was able to work out that they were all participating in a rally. One by one, they came to the starting point, waited for the signal, and then departed the town. I continued my walk, took a couple of photographs, and then returned to my car to get my tripod.
I walked the few steps to the beach. Looking north along the coast, I did see the wind turbine farm. However, when I looked in the other direction, it appeared there were more photographic opportunities. I started off to my left.
Not far down the trail, I saw a sign. Two different Makara Walkways were delineated on the poster; one followed the coast while the other wound its way up the hillside to a World War II gun emplacement. I decided the upper route was the one for me.
About 400 meters along the trail, I stopped at a rock pillar formation. It made for an interesting subject for some photographs. After another 250 meters, I was at the point where the trail splits. Along the way, it was easy to see that Gita had compromised the path. At some places, there was no trail left, only the rocks of the beach.
Heading up the trail, I soon came to the opening of a small valley. At the top of the valley was a lone wind turbine. I am not sure why there was only one while across the bay, there was an entire farm of wind turbines. During my stop to take some photos, a man and woman passed me. I ultimately turned to follow them. Soon, I came to yet another fork in the trail. The couple had gone left. I decided to go right.
The trail rose quickly. I stopped several times to wheeze. Ultimately, I made it to the top of the rise. The view from there was one of the best I have seen during our travels in New Zealand. I found myself on a reasonably steep clifftop. The cliff and hills continued toward the south. I could easily overlook Cook Strait and see the South Island. From my vantage point, I was mainly looking through Queen Charlotte Sound, toward the town of Picton.
I was interested in continuing the climb toward the wind turbine and the gun emplacement. However, the rock scrabble trail at this point looked a little iffy. Instead, I decided to concentrate on my photographs. I decided I would descend back to the fork in the trail when I finished with my camera work and continue up toward the wind turbine. As it turns out, when I got back to the fork, I was a bit tired. I also thought Leslie would be wondering why I was gone so long. With that in mind, I opted to walk back to Makara.
Arriving back in Makara, I decided to stop at the Makara Beach Café again to get a bottle of water. Philippa was still there. She sold me a large and wonderfully cold bottle of water. She is representative of the many Kiwis we have met, so very nice and friendly.
Helen has done work for magazines, books, and art at several of the New World supermarkets. The work she had on display at the gallery is some of the most unique I have ever seen. She combines gesso, graphite, and varnish into some fantastic, textural pieces. Two pieces caught my eye; a gannet at the beach and a seal on a piece of driftwood. After quite a bit of conversation and thinking, I opted to purchase the seal on the driftwood. It connected with me, and I am sure with Leslie too. It is on a piece of driftwood. Both of us like driftwood. We have collected a lot while we have lived in New Zealand. Both of us love seals. Some of our best memories of New Zealand will include the seals at Red Rocks and Cape Palliser. That meant that piece was destined to be our favorite piece of art from this beautiful country.
Helen packaged the artwork. I put it in my car and turned to head home.
In my opinion, the town of Makara is a must-see location!