My son (3 and a half) requested that we go for a drive this afternoon. I asked where he would like to go, and he said he would like to walk in the forest. (Truly his mother’s son!)

So, we headed into Reikorangi Valley and followed Mangaone South Road, where the southern end of the Mangaone Walkway is accessed. The last time we had explored this track (when my son was about two), we only got as far as the swing bridge (50 metres in), before becoming ensconced by the river, experimenting with the myriad different ways stones can be thrown into the water (<– irony). So no actual bush-walking was undertaken on that occasion. (more…)

After our first excursion to Reikorangi on the last day of 2011 [see: Views of Kapiti 8: the kahikatea of Ngatiawa], I couldn’t resist another outing there with my son the next day.

I find the landscapes of Reikorangi so alluring; the natural environment itself is varied and interesting, both in its contours and mix of indigenous and exotic vegetation, but I also like the fact that its history is so palpable in the landscape. Even from the road, an observant visitor will spot old buildings, lichen-covered fences, abandoned machinery and other infrastructure. (more…)

This landscape was taken from Mangaone South Road, Reikorangi [click here to view map]. Mangaone South Road largely follows the Waikanae River as it makes its way from the western foothills of the Tararua Ranges out to sea. In this shot, pasture-covered hills can be seen in the foreground, while regenerating bush-clad hills can be seen in the background. (more…)

The front-page article in yesterday’s Kapiti Observer, showing a photo of a local man peering glumly into the his near-empty whitebait net at the mouth of the Waikanae River, prompted me to think about whitebait decline and its historical causes.

But first of all, what are whitebait? Many New Zealanders (including myself, until embarrassingly recently) may vaguely assume that it is a type of small fish – but in fact it is the juvenile form of five species of the fish family Galaxiidae (the most common being inanga). (more…)

In a follow-up to the story on the Waikanae River restoration project, the Kapiti man behind this remarkable transformation from “wasteland” to “wetland”, John Topliff has this month received an award from Forest and Bird for his contribution to conservation in New Zealand. (more…)

Everyone has environmental histories to share (for example, see The lawn mower Part 2 – an enduring relationship). These are stories about our interactions with the environment, and the realisations we make from these. For instance, older people in Kapiti have shared how they used to row boats down the Waikanae River as children (but how now, the water is reduced to a trickle for much of the year and any kind of boating activity would prove a challenge). Or, people may remember catching eels or freshwater crayfish in the creek down the back of the farm as a child — a much less common children’s pastime today… (more…)

Of the many fascinating stories about New Zealand’s rivers, none would be more mysterious that the case of the disappearing river of Waikanae.

About 120 years ago, the Waimeha River forked off the Waikanae River near the current road bridge south of Waikane township. It then meandered through the current Waikanae township, largely following the route of what is now Te Moana Road. As it neared the coast it sharply changed direction southwards to follow the coastline, before eventually meeting up with the Waikanae River and making its break out to sea. (more…)

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