28 January 2010

Conquering the Northern Walkway's Mt. Kaukau

Amazingly, our house is very near the track that leads to the highest point overlooking the Wellington harbour. It really is such a treat to be so near nature, we can just go when the weather permits and we don't have to do a lot of preparation.

I have always heard that the 360-degree view on top of Mt. Kaukau is breathtaking but haven't had the change to make the trek. A friend went with me halfway through the track but we decided to do a detour because we started quite late and it started to drizzle. Well, I had the opportunity to continue where I last left through an unexpected call from another friend who was keen on doing something interesting that Saturday afternoon. It was a glorious day, and soon we found ourselves with Jo-Lo strolling under a bright blue sky.

This entrance to the walkway starts with a canopied path, with the sun getting filtered through the foliage and creating a light greenish hue around us.
This walkway is well-maintained, with the path distinctly marked and where the trail goes uphill, you find yourself facing a sturdily-built stairway! How convenient is that?

A leisurely walk will indeed take you about an hour to reach the top.
The transmission tower is a familiar landmark on this mountain. We reached the top, and we didn't break into sweat! Even Jo-Lo, who would usually ask to be carried after around half an hour's walk, was able to complete the trek.

The view here is truly spectacular. You can see the Wellington waterfront, and to its right are rolling hills with gigantic wind turbines.

For the trek back, we decided to take the long route, going all the way to Old Coach Road which I went through with a friend months before.
We saw some cows grazing lazily. The scene reminded me of this commercial we have back in the Philippines about this brand of milk with the seal of approval of the New Zealand Dairy Board.
And this scene never fails to evoke memories of the movie ET, with the kids riding bikes around the neighborhood. And then I wonder if that same neighborhood was able to maintain that suburbia atmosphere, or it might have grown into a city as well...
Interestingly, Jo-Lo made the tramp all the way back to the house with only about 5 minutes' piggyback ride as interval. He sure did have fun, as did we. I hope that when I go back, I have a better camera to capture the beauty of the place.

24 January 2010

Tramping and picnic fun at the Kaitoke Regional Park

One of the highlights of our summer vacation was the "expedition" to Kaitoke Regional Park. We had been invited to join in a group picnic and a bit of exploration around this area but I was thinking it was going to be just a simple stroll in the park, so to speak. I was delightfully mistaken.

And so we brought along our plate (which means we brought food to share basically) and were joined by the others at Upper Hutt for the quick ride to the park. My interest was piqued when I saw tents and camper vans claiming temporary stake on some choice areas where the trees an shrubbery have given way to green lawns. And we got even more excited when we saw road signs showing where Rivendell is!

After a very hearty lunch shared by at least 5 families, the prospect of exploring one of the trails came up. Soon enough we found ourselves walking on this rather looooong bridge that swayed ever so slightly, adding to the excitement.
The trail, which took us nearly an hour of leisurely stroll and the frequent taking of photos, was a very impressive display of New Zealand's natural heritage. The natural canopy provided a warm cover from the noon sun, and at the same time filtered the light into a greenish aura. It is not surprising that this forest park became the inspiration for Rivendell, the home of the elves in the epic movie Lord of the Rings.

There were quite a number of tall trees with trunks so thick that at it will take at least four people with hands outstretched to embrace it completely. Amazing things, these trees. It's not difficult to imagine that enchanted beings live in this area.

Lo and behold, at the end of the trail is a signpost pointing the way to Rivendell. I was half-expecting to see the corridors and houses interspersed with the trees but Peter Jackson's group did an amazing job at keeping the place immaculate and in its original state. The signage below is the only reminder that the area became host to one of the best movies ever made (next to Star Wars hahaha!).
When we finally arrived to where we originally started, Jo-Lo yearned to go to the river. He loves the water, and will seize any opportunity to be in one. So off to the river we went to relax and watch the kids play in the water before we departed for the city.

As we headed back to the city, talks of coming back and pitching tent were in the air. It was a truly wonderful place. Thank you Glen, Cory and kids for inviting us! And thanks to our friends who were there to share in the fun and the photos!

Related link: Greater Wellington Regional Council

14 January 2010

Gone Fishing at Owhiro Bay

One of the more interesting things I did during the holidays was fishing. Glen invited me for an afternoon of fishing with his dad and son from out of the blue and always on the lookout for something new, I heartily accepted.

We went to Owhiro Bay which is south of the Wellington CBD. It was less than an hour's trip. My son Jo-Lo went with me, a perfect time to enjoy the beach which he loves so much.

After a quick lecture on how to prep the fishing rods, we approached the water and started the fishing business.
Jo-Lo played about the area. The shore is peppered with stones smoothed out by water and time, the sort that you would also see on rivers, and the rough road is suitable for 4x4s. The nearby mountains are being rehabilitated through the planting of native shrubbery by volunteers, and trampers are advised to stay along the pathways. There were quite a number of people walking about as well, and many would smile and greet you. Such is the friendly atmosphere here in Wellington.

Glen said that if we continued to walk further off and around the next bend, we would be at Red Rocks Reserve, an area of national significance. The place is named such because of the presence of iron oxides which give the rocks their reddish colouring. A bit further off is a seal colony. I would have been excited to go and see this natural wonder as well but we were there specifically for fishing; that adventure will have to wait next time.

As the day wore on, however, the waters became more choppy and the wind started to pick up. Beginner's luck was not on my side.

Soon enough, we were headed off for home.
Glen was able to bag a catch, though! Experience ruled over beginner's luck on that day.

Related links:
Owhiro Bay Entrance Upgrade by wellington.govt.nz
Red Rocks Reserve by newzealand.com

09 January 2010

Baguio City Mayor and Council Okay 25-year Lease of Athletic Bowl (part of Burnham Park) to Koreans

In a matter of months, we have another dilemma in our hands. Earlier, local officials tried to pass a budget approval for private cars in a time when the city badly needed trucks to collect the city's mounting trash problem, and then the trees beside the Convention Center were nearly cut down to make room for more buildings. Now, we have learned that the local government has entered into a contract with the Koreans to lease the Athletic Bowl for 25 years. It is, essentially, a privatization of a public park, a park that is meant for the people. But here's the local government, leasing it out to the Koreans, which effectively means the people of Baguio will no longer have free access to the place. Wow, the local people being made foreigners in their own soil.

Read more about this at iBaguio, and please join the online protest at Facebook:
Save the Burnham Park Movement and Petition Against Baguio Athletic Bowl MOA. Please help us prevent further commercialization of Baguio City!

[UPDATE 13 January 2010]


With the Baguio City Council recalling Resolution 515 in a highly-emotional session Monday (January 12, 2010) we feel the petition against the Athletic Bowl MOA contained in this Facebook group, has already served its purpose. In the valiant stand taken by Councilor Pinky Chan Rondez during the session, she cited our Facebook presence to underline the public’s disgust over the deal. The prevailing negative public perception over this scandalous agreement (which some quarters still downplay as pure chismis circulated through Facebook), the City Councilors are quickly washing their hands clean.

But the main idea for this petition as an influential democratic space is STILL ALIVE. Now we know that TOGETHER, we can get things done the right way. UNITED, our opinions can make or shake the government. In the Medieval Ages, they said that the pen is mightier than the sword. In our generation, the mouse is mightier than lions.
In this regard, we shall continue to keep the fire burning for this and other Baguio issues, as we rename our group BAGUIO PETITIONS ONLINE. Mabuhay ang Baguio Facebookers!

03 January 2010

Happy 2010, everyone!

As I start to write this, the clock struck 12 midnight, and I am now on the final day of the Christmas break. Times certainly flies when you're having fun. There were a couple of things I said I will do during the break but never got around to doing it, and at the same time there were a couple of things I didn't dream of doing but did! It's truly interesting how you would plan at times and then something else comes around.

One thing I will not do for this year is make a New Year's resolution. Wait... did I just make a resolution to not make a resolution? Hmmm...

Anyhoo, what a year 2009 has been! It was good to me overall. For one thing, I started work 20 January after months of unemployment (and it's related to the Internet which is smashing), we moved to a nice house with a sun room and a small area where I am able to do a bit of gardening, we were able to get our Permanent Residency, and towards the latter part of the year we were able to acquire a few material comforts. Best of all, I am thankful that we are all in good health as can be.

A few hours from now I will be putting down the decorations and storing them for next December. And as part of the clean-up I decided to do a bit of bloghopping and visit my old haunts. One thing I noticed was how blogrolling.com now had this advertising space plugged on top of the screen every time you visit a link they are sponsoring so I decided to do away with that and recreate my Link Love using a native Blogger list widget. And while bloghopping I was happy to note that many of my fellow bloggers are still happily writing. Unfortunately, quite a number has also disappeared from the radar. Dropped off completely or just stopped altogether. But for sentimental reasons I have decided to retain some of them, and clean out dead links. I had to go through quite a long list and might have accidentally deleted some links so if you cannot find your blog in the list at the lower left section of this blog, my profuse apologies. Do bring it to my attention and we will have the reciprocal links in order.

All the best to everyone in 2010!
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