Saturday, February 14, 2009
2009. Nameless Track, Hoon Hay Valley
2009. End of Hoon Hay Valley & Cashmere Road, Christchurch, with Canterbury Plains behind
One overcast Saturday afternoon, I drove to Westmorland and parked my car near the end of Penruddock Road. After several weeks of Christchurch summer heat, three days of rain had been a relief.
Over the last week, on TV we'd watched the horrors of Victoria burning near Melbourne. When I'd driven around Christchurch the previous Saturday, a beigy-orange glow had suffused the air, roads, cars, windows, walls, causing a spooky light. Dust from Aussie bush fires had blown 2000 kms across the Tasman Sea to NZ.
2009. City Care sign, Westmorland, Christchurch
Beyond a gate a sign stated:
Warning lists stated:
MOUNTAIN BIKERS / WALKERS
SLIPPERY GRASS / CLAY
REPORT TO SITE
FOREMAN WHEN YOU
FIRST ARRIVE AT
SITE FOR INDUCTION!
THINK SAFETY AT ALL TIMES
2009. Drain Covers, City Care Site Office, above Hoon Hay Valley, Christchurch
2009. Excavators overlooking Canterbury Plains & Southern Alps, Westmorland, Christchurch
Beyond the sign, I walked up the steep slope hazard on a gravel track and examined two white CITY CARE earthmoving diggers: one parked near a pile of rolling rocks hazard, another parked by a site office near several cylindrical concrete drain covers. A big pile of sand covered in weeds stood behind the site office. Near a house, further up the steep slope hazard, to the left a rattling digger dumped dirt into a truck.
I returned to the gate and followed concrete drain covers along a clay track hazard at the edge of Hoon Hay Valley. I was the only walker hazard and had the site to myself. Near the CITY CARE diggers again, the track had been graded leaving mud drying and ribbed by earthmoving track machines.
2009. Drain Trench, Hoon Hay Valley top. Marleys Hill, Worsleys Track & Hoon Hay Hill backdrop
I passed a deep trench hazard where diggers had extracted rock hazards. The trench hazard was deeper and longer than several graves above Hoon Hay Valley.
2009. Drain Cover overlooking broom, Hoon Hay Valley & Canterbury Plains
2009. Excavator cat truck overlooking Hoon Hay Valley & Hoon Hay Hill, Port Hills
Near pylons, I came across another tracked earthmover parked in the mud, and looked down Hoon Hay Valley Road at cattle and sheep in separate paddocks. Beside Cashmere Road I saw red deer in more Hoon Hay Valley paddocks. To make way for drain pipes, a grader had scraped away broom down the valley slope.
Over the years, whenever I'd driven along Hoon Hay Valley Road, broom infestation had increased. I watched someone riding a horse in the valley, and two joggers went up the road too.
2009. Hoon Hay Valley & Hoon Hay Hill, Port Hills, Christchurch
2009. Drain Cover & Digger Buckets, northern hillside above Hoon Hay Valley
2009. Digger by Nameless Track, Hoon Hay Valley side. Marleys Hill backdrop
On my Nameless Track, below a grassy hill hazard, I walked along a muddy dip, and on a grassy rise I found several earthmoving buckets of different sizes. On Hoon Hay Valley rim, burnt grass, revealed rocks to be moved. Below the grassy hill, I passed another parked digger, and after passing 26 concrete drain covers, each about 100m apart, surrounded by mud, I came to the end of my Nameless Track, near new housing and a fence by Worsleys Road. I snapped Canterbury Plains one side and Sugarloaf and Marleys Hill the other side.
2009. Nameless Track, Hoon Hay Valley side. Sugarloaf & Marleys Hill backdrop
2009. By Worsleys Road. Sugarloaf & Marleys Hill, Port Hills backdrop
2009. End of Nameless Track excavation near Worsleys Road. Sugarloaf & Dyers Pass backdrop
From a house, two teenager boys flew a balsawood model plane, which circled past me and dropped into the mud. I retrieved it and placed it on a rock for the boys to find. Its engine had fallen off.
The previous Saturday, Leah and I'd watched Wigram Air Show from Riccarton Mall carpark - parachutists falling from the blue; two helicopters trailing smoke; two big planes, a 4 prop engine and a 2 prop engine, circling over Christchurch; and at the end, 5 planes formation-flying - looping and diving, making smoke trails in the sultry afternoon.
Ngai Tahu Maori tribe had bought Wigram Airport with Waitangi Treaty settlement money, and planned to close Wigram Airport, replacing it with housing development. We'd seen many housing developments in Christchurch.
2009. Nameless Track above Hoon Hay Valley with Canterbury Plains behind
Along my Nameless Track I dawdled back to my car. Like any road construction, the disturbed ground was full of weeds: yarrow; docks; thistles; cotula; fat hen; poroporo Solanum aviculare, and bumble bees pollinating. On reaching my car, I'd dawdled for two hours and clouds had blown away. In future I expect new houses would've been built, despite the credit crunch.
When I drove back to Burnside, cops were directing traffic at the Blenheim Road / Curletts Road intersection, enabling hazardous bikers to complete their two day Coast to Coast Marathon from Kumara Beach on the West Coast to Christchurch.
Content & pics Mark JS Esslemont