Of Lions and Lookouts

11 Feb ’13

February 6th, Waitangi Day, our national day. Or it should be. It seems to me that this day has come to symbolise the trouble that divides us as a nation, rather than a celebration of our oneness. I think that the vast majority of us choose to ignore the silliness and jostling for position that goes on up North. It has become an embarrassment.

But anyway, we get a day off work and school. At least those of us who do not work in retail get a day off, so we made the most of it.

Te Manawa, our local museum, had the job of hosting the city’s celebrations for the day. There were stalls and entertainment, live music and of course the museum and art gallery exhibits.
I was fascinated by the Google Earth carpet in the Te Awa – The River exhibit when we visited during the museum’s open day after its major refurbishment. I still find the carpet rather cool. There’s now an interactive map which shows how the stop bank and flood-way systems protect our farmland, towns and city from flooding along the Manawatu River. We had a little bit of a play with that, and I explained to the kids how it all works. Later, as we wandered around the other exhibits we found a tiny replica movie theater that happened to be running a reel about the building of the flood gates. Good timing, and really interesting to see the history behind the model we’d played with.

There’s also a bronze (I think) statue of a horse on display. This horse used to stand in the foyer of the DIC department store building, now the city library. When I first saw the statue last time we visited it brought back memories of trips to town with my Nana, or maybe it was Grandma, when I was very small. That horse used to delight me as a little girl, and I swear it used to be seven feet tall!

I hadn’t taken my DSLR with me to the museum, but I grabbed some pictures  and shot a little video with the  Canon P&S.

We watched the International Pacific College drummers perform – there is some energy there! I could feel the drum beats in the air, the vibrations in my bones, just awesome.

Manawatu Chinese Association

Chinese Lion

The the Manawatu Chinese Association brought out their lion. What a character he is, apparently Chinese lions don’t like lettuce. Who knew?! Both these groups were excellent, and well appreciated by the crowd.

In the afternoon we decided we’d tackle the new Gorge Loop Track, built since the Big Slip that closed the Gorge road for a year. Billy and Cat have both walked the full Gorge Track that crosses the Tararuas from the Ashhurst to the Woodville side, but the rest of us haven’t walked much of the track at all.

Manawatu Gorge Loop Track

Three kids in the bush is worth a bird in the hand??

It is cool and green in there, mossy and ferny, the little stream tumbles over the sharp rock that makes up the Manawatu Gorge. Board walks and bridges wind along the stream at the start of the track, making for easy walking.  I love spending time in our native bush. It is always several degrees cooler under the trees, and the calm quiet simply envelopes one in peace. It does not take long for the sound of the traffic on the road to fade away, the call of birds and the crunch of walking shoes on the lime-stoned track takes over. And the huffing and puffing, and heart pounding that’s required to get up the steep hill… The Lovely Man and I were pretty fit when we got back from Europe last year, but months of not much exercise has taken its toll.
The view from the new lookout at the top of the track really shows how much work was required to repair the hillside after the Big Slip. There’s a  picnic spot up there high above the road/river/railway –  it’s worth the climb.

Manawatu Gorge Track Lookout

Manawatu Gorge Track Lookout

My goodness, it was busy in there. Lots of other people had decided to take advantage of their day off  and make use of this great walk that we have right on back door step.  The round trip took us about 1.5 hours, and we weren’t pushing hard.  If you have a spare afternoon, make the effort. You won’t regret it.


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