The walk from Kiritaki hut back over the range to the car at No. 1 Line tested my concentration. After a bitterly cold night, much of the snow had frozen, making the footing even more treacherous. Still, I had plenty of time as well as the inclination to stop frequently to photograph and eat another biscuit and admire the spectacular environment through which I was picking my way. This shows a typical section of the track.
When I began leaving the ice and snow behind on the descent to the car, I felt a twinge of sadness. Times like this don't come frequently enough.
The lower North Island's being flooded right now. I'm O.K. up here on the terrace, even though the ground's completely waterlogged and some large areas of ponding have developed. If this rain keeps up, the already massively swollen Pohangina River will probably flood the river flats and there's a slight chance the road might close. That won't affect me, because I can hunker down, stay put, read, write, brew tea, and not go anywhere. Others won't be so lucky.
But a few days ago we had a brief spell of brilliant weather, and an evening like this.
On this morning when the temperature felt only slightly above absolute zero, I took the camera for a walk to see the patterns of frost. I saw something much more spectacular — this tui sipping nectar from the flowers of a tagasaste (tree lucerne).
In the gales we've been having, small birds must find life difficult. I was surprised to see this piwakawaka managing surprisingly well. Not sure what the gunk on its wing was, but it didn't seem to impede the bird's flight.
Over the last few days we've had tremendous winds, along with drizzly rain interspersed with brief, torrential downpours. Last night the house shook and I wondered whether the new verandah roof would go the way the old one went last year. It proved up to the task, though, and the house came through unscathed. This afternoon, needing time outside, I braved the gale and took the camera for a walk. Surprisingly, not all autumn's leaves had been ripped from the trees.
Beyond the top seat, the old track, re-marked earlier this year, winds its way through horopito and toro and on into dense, old leatherwood. Here, if you stepped off the track and somehow managed to wriggle and heave through the tight tangle of tough limbs to a small clearing somewhere, you'd have a hard time telling which century you were living in.
On the No. 1 Line track early this afternoon I met the family of Titipounamu who, my records are beginning to disclose, seem to frequent this particular section of the track. They seemed particularly vocal and foraged energetically, never staying still for more than a second (as far as I could tell, that's literally less than a second, and I mean that in the literal sense, not the figurative sense of 'literal' that seems increasingly popular. Grump.)
I managed several photographs that leave the identification indisputable, but, of the others, I particularly like this one.