Waitati: Day 21

There is a back way out of Dunedin; or several, actually, but my favourite is via Leith Valley Road. I've driven it several times, cycled it twice and today I walked it. Strolling through Woodhough Gardens and up Melville Street, you rise gently through Leith Valley until the road becomes narrow and disappears into the bush clad hills. It climbs more steeply with the raucous infant Leith tumbling along beside it. The houses become scarce, and then disappear altogether although the occasional Rapid Number attached to a post tells you that there is one hidden somewhere up a convoluted driveway. After a while the road narrows further and the tarseal is replaced by lightly rutted gravel. Eventually the road crosses SHW1 by way of a plain concrete bridge, and follows the main road for a bit before doubling back over it at the crest of the hill and then winding downwards along Waitati Valley Road to Blueskin Bay.

On a good day the views are amazing, and today was a good day. The sky was blue, there was a picturesque sea fog filling the valleys, the water was clear and cool and the bush dark green. On the Waitati side of the hill there are horses and sheep and pretty farmhouses. We started at the Northern Cemetery with 13 or 14  people and finished with 11. They included a few from Dunedin parishes, Debbie my PA, a couple of Kenyans and a nice bloke who had recently walked the Camino Santiago. I had anticipated a 28km walk, but it was shorter than that, perhaps 22, so it was quite leisurely. I had several great conversations and we stopped a couple of times to eat and catch our breath.

At 1:30 pm we walked into Waitati where Louise Anne Booth had arranged an afternoon tea at the Blueskin Bay Library. The library is the centre of this little community, containing (naturally) a very commendable collection of books and displays and also space for community meetings and gatherings of all sorts. They had set up posters and an arrangements of books on Samuel Marsden and the early missionaries. At 3:00 pm I spoke to a small gathering and a lively discussion followed on what exactly was this Te Harinui - the Great rejoicing - that I was proclaiming?

This Hikoi is moving in quite distinct stages. The first was the small trip around Stewart Island; next the long walk through Southland; then the boat trip and helicopter flight through the Central Lakes district and the trip by foot and cycle to Clyde; Then the Central Rail Trail; then the Taieri Gorge Railway followed by the St. Hilda's Hikoi. Each has felt quite distinct and different, and the walk North through Coastal Otago is promising to have its own distinctive and rich character. It was another wonderful day and I am looking forward to continuing the path tomorrow, through Warrington and Karitane to Waikouaiti


Elaine Dent said…
Just curious: Is the walk changing the way you proclaim Te Harinui?
Linda said…
You have a very nice blog, and your header is lovely.