Tag Archives: New Zealand

Napier, Art Deco Capital of the world

No other city has such a great variety and concentration of buildings in the styles of the 1930s, including Spanish Mission, Stripped Classical,  and especially Art Deco. Napier is known as the Art Deco Capital of the world.

The Soundshell, JT Watson, 1935 - Art Deco Capital
The Soundshell, JT Watson, 1935
Soundshell at night
Soundshell at night from Wikimedia Commons

The Art Deco Capital is situated on one of the world’s most active tectonic fault lines.

The Colonnade and Plaza, JT Watson, 1936-1939 - Art Deco Capital
The Colonnade and Plaza, JT Watson, 1936-1939

New Zealand’s deadliest earthquake took place on February 3rd 1931, killing 258 people and leveling many of Napier’s buildings. The 7.9 magnitude quake broke the water mains, and hours later fires destroyed most of the remaining buildings.

The Veronica Sunbay, JT Watson, 1934
The Veronica Sunbay, JT Watson, 1934

The HMS Veronica, an Acacia-class sloop of the Royal Navy, was in port at Napier on the day of the quake. She radioed Auckland for help, and her sailors helped with rescue and salvage. The sea bed rose up beneath her, so she was docked for inspection. She and her crew are commemorated by the Veronica Sunbay, above. This is actually a replica of the one built in the 1930s.

The Kirk Sundial, Louis Hay, 1933
The Kirk Sundial, Louis Hay, 1933

Napier began to rebuild as soon as possible, in part to inspire optimize in her citizens after the disaster.

The British - South African War Memorial, 1906
The British – South African War Memorial, 1906

Three characteristics were important in the new buildings – they needed to be safe, modern and inexpensive. Art Deco was perfect for this.

The Masonic Hotel, 1932
The Masonic Hotel, 1932

Art Deco eschewed the kind of ornamental details that were first things to fall into the streets during the 1931 earthquake. The Masonic Hotel, above, is one of two buildings in Napier with parapet ornaments, and they were built to be earthquake-proof – at least by the standards of the time.

The T&G Building, 1936
The T&G Building, 1936

Art Deco architecture was the successor to and reaction against Art Nouveau, a style which flourished in Europe between 1895 and 1900.

ASB Bank, 1932
ASB Bank, 1932
ASB Bank, 1932
ASB Bank, 1932

Consider the Art Nouveau architecture of Casa Batlló, remodeled by Antoni Gaudí and Josep Maria Jujol (1904–1906).

The Casa Batlló, remodeled by Antoni Gaudí and Josep Maria Jujol (1904–1906)
The Casa Batlló, remodeled by Antoni Gaudí and Josep Maria Jujol (1904–1906) – from Wikimedia Commons

It’s real different from buildings in the Art Deco style.

The Central Post Office
The Central Post Office

“In 1905 Eugène Grasset wrote and published Méthode de Composition Ornementale, Éléments Rectilignes,[45] in which he systematically explored the decorative (ornamental) aspects of geometric elements, forms, motifs and their variations, in contrast with (and as a departure from) the undulating Art Nouveau style of Hector Guimard, so popular in Paris a few years earlier.” – Wikipedia

Bennets (HA Westerholm, 1929) and Blythes (1933) Buildings
Bennets (HA Westerholm, 1929) and Blythes (1933) Buildings
Blythes Building (1933)
Blythes Building, 1933

Grasset stressed the principle that various simple geometric shapes like triangles and squares are the basis of all compositional arrangements. The reinforced concrete buildings of Auguste Perret and Henri Sauvage, and particularly the Theatre des Champs-Elysees, offered a new form of construction and decoration which was copied worldwide.[46] ”  – Wikipedia

The Criterion Hotel, EA Williams, 1932
The Criterion Hotel, EA Williams, 1932

Hawkes Bay Chambers is an excellent example of the Art Deco style.

Hawkes Bay Chambers, EA Williams, 1932
Hawkes Bay Chambers, EA Williams, 1932

“Art Deco was associated with both luxury and modernity; it combined very expensive materials and exquisite craftsmanship put into modernistic forms. Nothing was cheap about Art Deco: pieces of furniture included ivory and silver inlays, and pieces of Art Deco jewelry combined diamonds with platinum, jade, and other precious materials.” – Wikipedia

Smith & Chambers Building, Alfred Hill, 1932
Smith & Chambers Building, Alfred Hill, 1932
Smith & Chambers Building, Alfred Hill, 1932
Smith & Chambers Building, Alfred Hill, 1932

The style became more simplified by the 1930s.  And Napier didn’t really need luxury , she needed inexpensive buildings fast, and buildings that she could be proud of.

I need to make a point of going back to see as many building interiors as I can. I suspect that I’ll find some touches of luxury.

30's boy
30’s boy

A boy from the 1930s waves to his mother across Emerson Street.

30s mother
30s mother

In 1922 Howard Carter discovered Tutankhamun’s nearly intact tomb. This sparked a renewed public interest in ancient Egypt, and Egyptian motifs showed up in the decorative elements of Art Deco architecture. Hotel Central Provincial Hotel, below, is a great example.

Hotel Central Provincial Hotel, EA Williams, 1932
Hotel Central Provincial Hotel, EA Williams, 1932

Zoom in for a close look at the ziggurats, the lotus and falcons on the capitals, and the sunbursts and the zigzag patterns.

Hotel Central Provincial Hotel, EA Williams, 1932
Hotel Central Provincial Hotel, EA Williams, 1932

Colenso Chambers, below, has a nice Spanish Missions style.

Colenso Chambers, EA Williams, 1932
Colenso Chambers, EA Williams, 1932
Colenso Chambers, EA Williams, 1932
Colenso Chambers, EA Williams, 1932

The Provincial Hotel, below, is another example of the Spanish Missions style.

The Provincial Hotel, 1932
The Provincial Hotel, 1932

Trinity Methodist Church was built in 1876. It’s a great example of colonial wooden church architecture. It’s now the only church in Napier’s city center built before the 1931 earthquake.

Trinity Methodist Church, 1876
Trinity Methodist Church, 1876

The Public Trust Office, below, is a Classical Revival design, not really in favor by the 1930s. It’s solid mass allowed it to survive the quake.

The Public Trust Office, 1922
The Public Trust Office, 1922

The term Art Deco was coined for that style only in the 1960s. During rebuilding the people of Napier only knew that they were building one of the most modern cities architecturally in the world.

Madisons, 1932
Madisons, 1932

Much of Napier, today’s Art Deco Capital of the world, was rebuilt in just two years.

Scinde Building, EA Williams and HA Westerholm, 1932
Scinde Building, EA Williams and HA Westerholm, 1932

Of 164 buildings built between 1920 and 1940, 140 stand today.

Thorp's Building, Louis Hay, 1932
Thorp’s Building, Louis Hay, 1932

The Art Deco Capital is a well preserved relic of that time period.

Parker's Chambers, Louis Hay, 1932
Parker’s Chambers, Louis Hay, 1932

County Hotel was the second reinforced concrete building in Napier, which probably helped it survive the quake.

County Hotel, 1908, extension 1935
County Hotel, 1908, extension 1935

The earliest sections of the Hawkes Bay Museum & Art Gallery were completed between 1936 and 1937.

Hawkes Bay Museum & Art Gallery
Hawkes Bay Museum & Art Gallery

Pania was a beautiful sea maiden who fell in love with a Maori Chief. Their love couldn’t last, and Pania was drawn back to the sea to become the Pania Reef. Her statue in the Art Deco Capital is one of the most photographed sights in New Zealand.

Pania of the Reef, 1954
Pania of the Reef, 1954

This is one of my longer posts, but there are a lot of great buildings in the Art Deco Capital that I haven’t shown you. Many more are included in the full gallery of 80 pictures below.

Maraetotara Falls & Maraetotara Falls Heritage Walk

Maraetotara Falls Heritage Walk is a short but scenic drive from Hastings. Most of the way it’s the same route as to Ocean Beach. This beautiful day saw lots of paragliders circling peaks reminiscent of Te Mata Peak.

One entrance to Maraetotara Falls Heritage Walk
One entrance to Maraetotara Falls Heritage Walk

Maraetotara Road widens to provide ample parking. There are at least two different entrances to the walkway. Above is the second when approaching from Waimarama Road.

Near one entrance to the walkway
Near one entrance to the walkway

From the entrance I descended to the river. A path follows the river in both directions. There is no indication of the way to the falls, so I headed east.

Maraetotara River?
Maraetotara River?

I assume that the water tower just visible through the trees below was part of the historic Havelock North hydro-electric power station. It is visible from Maraetotara Road, and marks another entrance to the walkway.

Water tower
Water tower

I’ve read that I could walk about an hour on the tracks around the falls.  There wasn’t so much daylight left on a winter’s day, and the river is in a gully, so after walking some distance to the east, I decided that the falls was in the other direction, and turned back to the west.

The falls walkway
The falls walkway

The smaller falls are the first you see.  These flow over pipes that I believe used to carry water to the power plant.

Smaller falls
Smaller falls

From what I’ve read I can’t quite tell whether the falls themselves were actually created to power the plant.  It is clear that people enjoy swimming in the pool in the summer.

Maraetotara Falls
Maraetotara Falls

It’s a beautiful setting, a great place for a swim, and a good place for a short walk.

Maraetotara Falls
Maraetotara Falls

Please enjoy the full gallery of 10 pictures below.

Te Ana Falls & Tangoio Falls Scenic Reserve

Te Ana Falls can be accessed via an easy walk along Kareaara Stream. From the car park a bouncy, well-built suspension bridge provides access to the reserve. There’s a small sheltered picnic area just on the other side of the stream.

Tangoio Falls Scenic Reserve
Tangoio Falls Scenic Reserve

The walk to the falls is 30 minutes return from the Tangoio Falls Scenic Reserve parking area, located 27 km north of Napier on State Highway 2.

Kareaara Stream
Kareaara Stream

The trail follows the attractive Kareaara Stream most of the way. We passed lots of muddy children on the way, but there are no real climbs on the way to Te Ana Falls, so the footing wasn’t much of a problem.

Kareaara Stream
Kareaara Stream

Right before the falls the bush takes on a unique look.

Tangoio Falls Scenic Reserve
Tangoio Falls Scenic Reserve

This is one of the most interesting forests I’ve ever seen.

Tangoio Falls Scenic Reserve
Tangoio Falls Scenic Reserve

Te Ana Falls, also called Ann’s Falls, has a pool at the base that would be good for cooling off on a hot day.

Te Ana Falls
Te Ana Falls

Another 15 minutes uphill leads to Tangoio Falls. Unfortunately, as we climbed it became clear that the muddy track was going to be dangerous on the way down, so we carefully retreated, and saved Tangoio Falls for a drier day.

Track to Tangoio Falls
Track to Tangoio Falls

Another walking option is the Tangoio Walkway, about 2 hours one way uphill to White Pine Bush. It is recommended to start at White Pine Bush if walking the track in only one direction. I would guess that this track too is better avoided in wet conditions.

Please enjoy the full gallery of 9 pictures below.

White Pine Bush Scenic Reserve, home of King Kahikatea

White Pine Bush Scenic Reserve offers a 30 minute loop through well-preserved old-growth native forest, with the option to extend the walk with another 30 minute loop.

White Pine Bush
White Pine Bush

Leaving the car park, a small bridge crosses a picturesque stream. The water is very clear and the lucky visitor might see small fish, eels or koura (freshwater crayfish).

Stream - White Pine Bush
Stream

The tracks of the first loop are excellent, even in wet conditions.  The second loop’s tracks are very good as well.

The two loops connect at a picnic area next to the stream. Extending the walk is an easy choice; the most huge and impressive old trees are found on this track, including King Kahikatea.

King Kahikatea - White Pine Bush
King Kahikatea

A boardwalk encourages visitors to stay off of the roots of most of the trees in this area. This kept me close to the huge King Kahikatea, and I was unsuccessful at doing it justice in pictures.

King Kahikatea - White Pine Bush
King Kahikatea

Later in the loop King Kahikatea can be seen towering over the rest of the forest. Kahikatea is the Maori name for white pine.

King Kahikatea - White Pine Bush
King Kahikatea

I’m happier with the pictures of the giants below. Unfortunately I’m not able to accurately identify them.

White Pine Bush
White Pine Bush

The pics above and below were shot on a sunnier day when dangerously wet tracks cut my walk short at a nearby reserve.

White Pine Bush
White Pine Bush

Walks in White Pine Bush are very easy, and popular with kids. On my first visit I met a couple of boys with their grandparents. They collected an impressive number of painted rocks. There were far more here than anywhere I’ve seen, at least before these kids finished their walk.

Hunters rock
Hunters rock

White Pine Bush Scenic Reserve is 30 km north of Napier on State Highway 2.

New growth from old
New growth from old

Please enjoy the full gallery of 17 pictures below.

Te Mata Park’s Big Redwoods Track

The Big Redwoods Track in Te Mata Park is 2.7km long and takes about an hour to walk. At the beginning it follows a similar route to the Karaka Wander. At the end it follows a route similar to Giant Circuit. In this post I haven’t included pics of a lot of things that are shared with tracks I’ve shown you in previous posts, but this track’s scenery is as epic as any in the park, and takes in both large redwood groves.

Limestone caves - Big Redwoods Track
Limestone caves

Te Mata Park’s mountain bike tracks really look like a lot of fun.

Mountain bike track and limestone cliffs
Mountain bike track and limestone cliffs

The Big Redwoods is a peaceful place with lots of space and lots of shade. A covered picnic area invites you to take a break, and stay for lunch.

Big Redwoods Grove
Big Redwoods Grove

These are the tallest and oldest redwoods in Te Mata Park.

The Big Redwoods
The Big Redwoods

There are the usual limestone cliffs, and other photogenic landscape.

Te Mata Park - Big Redwoods Track
Te Mata Park

Lemon-scented eucalyptus are beautiful trees and I’m glad I finally know them by name. These look like they’ve survived a fire.

Lemon-scented eucalyptus
Lemon-scented eucalyptus

Once the track joins with Giant Circuit it eventually passes one end of the other redwood grove, planted in 1974 by the Hastings Rotary Club.

Rotary Redwood grove
Rotary Redwood grove

I’ve returned often enough that every walk in Te Mata Park takes me to parts of the park that I’ve seen before, but they’re well worth revisiting. Every walk also shows me something new. This post doesn’t really do justice to Big Redwoods Track.

Limestone half-dome
Limestone half-dome

Near the end of Big Redwoods Track is that great lookout point over the Heretaunga Plains, worth posting again.

Lookout over the Heretaunga Plains
Lookout over the Heretaunga Plains

Please enjoy the full gallery of 8 pictures below.

My visits with redwood trees in Hawkes Bay made me nostalgic for the giant redwoods of California. The internet turned up this great page that contains some epic photos, the best of which I’m sharing with you below.

The President, 247 feet tall
The President, 247 feet tall
General Sherman, at 275 ft, a diameter of 25 ft, an estimated bole volume of 52,513 cu ft, and an estimated age of 2,300–2,700 years, is among the tallest, widest and longest-lived of all trees on the planet.
General Sherman, at 275 ft, a diameter of 25 ft, an estimated bole volume of 52,513 cu ft, and an estimated age of 2,300–2,700 years, is among the tallest, widest and longest-lived of all trees on the planet.
300 ft, 1,500 year old redwood
300 ft, 1,500 year old redwood

Piwakawaka Loop: redwoods, lemon eucalyptus, and fantails in Te Mata Park

Piwakawaka Loop is a 1.3km walk of about 40 minutes through Te Mata Park. It starts the same as 4 of the Top 5 Walking Tracks in Te Mata Park, in a clockwise direction from the Main Gates Car Park.

Near the start of 4 of the Top 5 Walking Tracks in Te Mata Park
Near the start of 4 of the Top 5 Walking Tracks in Te Mata Park

Soon the track ducks into a leafy tunnel. Green markers show the way.

Piwakawaka Loop diverges
Piwakawaka Loop diverges

I was surprised by a grove of redwoods that continues for some time. I’d only seen the other end of it previously, and never entered far into it. This is not the Big Redwoods Grove, but it is pretty big.

This grove was planted in 1974 by the Hastings Rotary Club with trees propagated by Don Wilson Nurseryman of Hastings using seeds imported from California. Redwoods seem to do well in New Zealand, and past residents of Hawkes Bay seem to have loved them.

Redwood grove
Redwood grove

This short loop track was given the Maori name for the fantails seen along the way. These curious little birds like to come up and say hello.

Piwakawaka (fantail)
Piwakawaka (fantail)

Lemon-scented eucalyptus are striking trees that always stand out from their surroundings. The essential oil of the tree is about 80% citronellal. Unrefined oil is used in perfume, and a refined form is used in insect repellents, especially against mosquitoes.

Lemon-scented eucalyptus - Piwakawaka Loop
Lemon-scented eucalyptus

The last part of the loop passes through the same landscapes as the beginning of Giant Circuit, and the end of some of the other walks in Te Mata Park.

Piwakawaka Loop
Piwakawaka Loop

Familiar sights include the view from the lookout near the Main Gates Car Park.

View over southern Hawkes Bay
View over southern Hawkes Bay

As I walk the tracks in Te Mata Park I get to know the park better as a whole while appreciating different areas and features. It’s nice to have a short walk like Piwakawaka Loop available, and its character makes it a unique Te Mata Park experience.

Please enjoy the full gallery of 8 pictures below.

Otatara Pa Historic Reserve

I often find difficult to judge how a was used for defense, but at Otatara Pa it’s easy to see the defensive advantages of the landscape. It’s also by far the largest pa I’ve ever seen.  Otatara Pa is considered one of the most outstanding defensive and settlement complexes, and one of the  most impressive archaeological sites, in New Zealand.

Entrance to Otatara Pa Historic Reserve
Entrance to Otatara Pa Historic Reserve

The palisades and pou whenua are not original of course, but they add a lot of character to the reserve, and offer an idea of what some of the pa’s defenses may have looked like.

Palisades and pou whenua of Otatara Pa
Palisades and pou whenua of Otatara Pa

Most of the palisades and pou whenua occupy the first hill up from the car park.  This is referred to as “Otatara Pä proper”.  Quarrying of the site destroyed many of the terraces, pits, and bank and ditch defenses, and left the shape seen in the pic below.  It is now a sort of amphitheater, and is used for performances.

Amphitheater formed by quarrying of Otatara Pa
Amphitheater formed by quarrying of Otatara Pa

The top of stakewall tower on top of the hill in the picture above offers a good first impression of the view commanded by Otatara Pa. The Tutaekuri River flows in the foreground in the picture below.

View southeast from Otatara Pa
View southeast from Otatara Pa

Cape Kidnappers is visible in the distance.

Cape Kidnappers from Otatara Pa
Cape Kidnappers from Otatara Pa

The site was often contested during the time it was occupied.  It benefited from a nearby tidal lagoon, rich in seafood, that existed until the earthquake of 1931 changed the landscape.  Fresh water was available from springs, and flax and raupö were available for weaving. The river gave good access to the coast and the forests, and the pa had excellent views of the surrounding areas.

View from Otatara Pa
View from Otatara Pa

The upper pä  was called Hikurangi.  Instead of following the road up, I climbed the steep grassy slopes in the middle of the picture below.

Higher ground at Otatara Pa
Higher ground at Otatara Pa

One of the highest ridges appears to have been used exclusively for food storageKūmara, a sweet potato, was a staple food stored in roofed pits.

A peak used exclusively for long-term food storage
A peak used exclusively for long-term food storage

A map that I photographed at the reserve’s entrance gave me a false impression that I knew where I was going, and I descended nearly to Churchill Drive before I checked Google Maps and realized my mistake.  Climbing back up that hill made my walk much more of a workout, but offered some views I would have missed otherwise.

Pou whenua in the golden hour
Pou whenua in the golden hour

There are other paths through the hills of Otatara Pa, and I’d consider returning for longer walks.

Please enjoy the full gallery of 11 pictures below.  To view on imgur click here.

Pekapeka Wetlands

Pekapeka Wetlands is a good place for a short walk on well maintained tracks and boardwalks in an attractive and relaxing environment.

First look at the wetlands from the carpark
First look at the wetlands from the carpark

The map below is posted at the car park.

Map of visitors area
Map of visitors area

I set off toward Waireporepo along the first boardwalk I saw.

First look at the wetlands from the carpark
First look at the wetlands from the carpark

The water isn’t exactly what I expected from wetlands.

Looking southwest
Looking southwest

It’s surprisingly clear.

Clear water
Clear water

These cows enjoyed a good defensive position on Waireporepo Pā (a is a Māori village or defensive settlement, often a hill fort).

Cows on Waireporepo Pa
Cows on Waireporepo Pa

You barely touch ground on Waireporepo Pā before turning back across the wetlands on another boardwalk. This leads to a hill with a viewing platform that gives you a good overview of the park.

From the viewing platform
From the viewing platform

Pekapeka Wetlands is rated as the second most ecologically valuable wetland in Hawke’s Bay. It was made a reserve in 1970 for the purpose of soil and water conservation. It has historical and cultural significance for Māori people as well, and was given waahi tapu (sacred) status in 1997. The wetlands are 4.5km long and 800m wide and cover 98 hectares. This small part in the middle was made into a park, and helps to inform the public on the benefits of wetlands to the environment.

In the past rubble was dumped in these wetlands.  The sculpture below serves as a reminder of that history.

Rubbish sculpture
Rubbish sculpture

Pekapeka is the Maori name for the native bats that lived in nearby caves and hunted in the wetlands.

Pekapeka Wetlands
Pekapeka Wetlands

The reserve is closed to the public in the first weekend of May each year for game bird shooting.

Bird blind
Bird blind

Paths climb to a higher lookout for another view over the park. At this point there’s a lot of traffic noise as you’re fairly close to highway 2.

From the lookout
From the lookout

You won’t find long walks here, but Pekapeka Wetlands is an attractive and relaxing place to visit.

Please enjoy the full gallery of 11 pictures below. To view on imgur click here.

Ocean Beach, Hawkes Bay

Although it is in the Hawkes Bay region, it is south of the bay itself, and therefore Ocean Beach is situated on the coast of the South Pacific Ocean.

Looking south
Looking south

There is a small community of around 30 houses south of Waikoukou Stream. The pic above is from just in front of the car park.

Looking north
Looking north

The sand stretches about 8km to the north, all the way to Cape Kidnappers.

South Pacific Ocean
South Pacific Ocean

There’s a picnic table about a 20-30 minute walk north from the car park.  In the picture below you can see the grassy sand just behind the beach.

Ocean Beach
Ocean Beach

We reached a second stream, and the sun went down behind a high hill closer to the ocean. It was immediately colder, and we turned back.

Ocean Beach
Ocean Beach

In the picture below you can see a farm located just behind the beach.  This is probably the source of the 4-wheeler tracks.

Farm on the beach
Farm on the beach

The Ocean Beach Kiwi Surf Life Saving Club patrols the beach in the summer.  Surfing is popular here as well as swimming.  In the pic below you can see the road up from the beach.

Ocean Beach Kiwi Surf Life Saving Club
Ocean Beach Kiwi Surf Life Saving Club

We stopped at the lookout over the beach on our way out.  A couple of young girls were just setting out for a walk along the ridge.

The beach from above
The beach from above

The sun may have set on Ocean Beach, but the surrounding hills were bathed in that great evening light.  The whole drive through the hills of Tuki Tuki and Ocean Beach is very scenic, with bright green grass and limestone cliffs.

Golden hour
Golden hour

There are no shops at Ocean Beach, so it has a nice remote feel, especially if you take a long walk to the north.  There were very few people around on a Monday.

Please enjoy the full gallery of 12 pictures below.  To view on imgur click here.

Te Mata Park’s Giant Circuit

We both had the weekend off after arriving in southern Hawkes Bay, and it was a nice one.  We returned to Te Mata Park and walked the Giant Circuit.

We followed the park website‘s recommendation that we walk the Giant Circuit in a counter-clockwise direction, unlike all of the other signposted walks in the park.

Very near the car park there is a platform with a great view to the north and east toward Hastings and Napier and the bay.

Giant Circuit, near the Main Gates Car Park
Giant Circuit, near the Main Gates Car Park

Te Mata Park is very accessible.  It’s a large 99 hectare (about 245 acres) park with 5 well marked walks.  It has an epic landscape, with forests and cliffs and great views of southern Hawkes Bay.  The best views are from Te Mata Peak, the highest point in the park at 399 meters (about 436 yards)).  The landscape demands that I shoot lots of panoramas, both horizontal and vertical.

Redwood Grove, planted 1974, Giant Circuit
Redwood Grove, planted 1974, Giant Circuit

I knew that we’d pass a grove of giant redwoods, and I thought we’d arrived when we reached the grove shown above.  A plaque informed us that this grove was planted in 1974.  The Giant Redwoods grove was planted in the 1930s.  As I’ve come to realize, past residents of southern Hawkes Bay loved planting redwood trees.

Giant Circuit climbs steeply out of grove and valley to the top of the surrounding cliffs.

Giant Circuit
Giant Circuit

The track then follows the ridge along the western border of the park.

Giant Circuit
Giant Circuit

The redwoods in the Big Redwoods grove are a lot larger than the ones we saw earlier.  The grove itself is larger too. There’s a 3rd redwood planting somewhere in Te Mata Park.

Big Redwoods grove
Big Redwoods grove

The track continues through a beautiful valley below some picturesque cliffs. This valley extends along most of the southern end of Te Mata Park. On the left, in the pic below, is one end of the ‘Hogs Back’ ridge whose opposite end is Te Mata Peak. The Rongakako Trail follows the top of this ridge.

Giant Circuit
Giant Circuit

The cliffs of Te Mata Park are composed of erosion-resistant limestone. Originally deposited in horizontal layers on the seabed, they were “tilted and bowed upward by the geological forces of the Pacific and Australian tectonic plates. The features of Te Mata Park are a result of the earthquake fault which runs from Wellington in the south, through the Ruahine ranges to Hawke’s Bay”.

Te Mata Park's southern valley
Te Mata Park’s southern valley
Southern Te Mata Park
Southern Te Mata Park

At the end of the ridge above a view opens up of the farmland of the Tuki Tuki region south of the park.

Tuki Tuki region from Te Mata Park
Tuki Tuki region from Te Mata Park

The ‘Snakes & Ladders’ section of track is fairly new, and very steep.  It was already in shadow on this winter late afternoon.

Bottom of the ‘Snakes & Ladders’ section of track
Bottom of the ‘Snakes & Ladders’ section of track

We took it slow, and enjoyed the improving view as we climbed.

Tuki Tuki region from Te Mata Park
Tuki Tuki region from Te Mata Park

The pic below is a comfortable walk away from the Te Mata Peak car park, still looking over Tuki Tuki.

Tuki Tuki region from Te Mata Peak
Tuki Tuki region from Te Mata Peak
Approaching Te Mata Peak
Approaching Te Mata Peak

There are many more pictures from the top of Te Mata Peak in my blog post on my first visit.

Looking southeast from Te Mata Peak
Looking southeast from Te Mata Peak

Walking the landscape between Te Mata Peak and the Saddle Lookout provides new angles on familiar landscapes.

Looking northeast toward the Tukituki River and Hawkes Bay
Looking northeast toward the Tukituki River and Hawkes Bay

This dog made me a bit nervous, coming up beside me as I stood near the edge shooting this panorama.  He ignored me, and took in the view before continuing on his way.

Looking northeast toward the Tukituki River and Hawkes Bay
Looking northeast toward the Tukituki River and Hawkes Bay

A last stretch of forest took us away from the road.

Last stretch of bush
Last stretch of bush

When we emerged from the trees everything was painting in the golden light of early evening.

Palms in golden light
Palms in golden light

From there it’s a short walk back to the Main Games Car Park.

Fall colors
Fall colors

Te Mata Park is an impressive place.  I look forward to exploring more of it.  I think I need to get a mountain bike so that I can explore the many trails dedicated to bikes.

Please enjoy the full gallery of 31 pictures below.  To view on imgur click here.

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