Meanwhile, on the weekend we had rivet. Because there's been a rivet shortage lately, we all made sure we got a good dose. One of these doses involved scenery and sheep. Because New Zealand is pretty much made out of scenery and sheep.
I got the privilege of heading out to Makara wind farm with Happy and rivet. It's a fairly new wind farm and there was sufficient public outcry against it from the NIMBY brigade* that in order to appease people it was opened up for visitors to go wander around bits of it. One of the turbines you can walk right up to:
Which is kind of cool. The whole thing is set up on a farm right on the southwestern corner of the North Island. Understandably so - it gets really really windy there - but not on Sunday. It was stunning. And bucolic:
It's actually kind of hard to take a picture around here without it looking bucolic. This one shows a bit better the rugged nature of the coast.
Or maybe it doesn't. Anyway, that scrubby looking bush is a combination of tawini and mingimingi, and they've basically let it flourish in the gullies so the whole area looks a bit scrubby like this. The sheep are perendales, a breed developed especially for North Island hill country.
The other thing that's out by the wind farm is a bunch of gun emplacements and old army barracks. In World War II when the Japanese army was frolicking about the Pacific, there was fear that New Zealand would be invaded, and these things were set up all around the coast of Wellington to spot any incoming submarines (or something). None ever came but the evidence is still there. At its peak there were 117 people stationed at Makara.
Looking out the old army barracks window, it appears we are being invaded by wind turbines.
"See any invading ships? Nope? Me neither. Shall we have a picnic instead?"
In the background of that one, far away, you can see the South Island. Sometimes you can see Tapuae O Uenuku which often has snow on top, but not this day. Land of the Long White Cloud indeed.
Above the gun emplacements there was a lookout shelter where people must have sat staring at the view for days. What a hardship. Actually it would be fricking horrible up there on a windy or southerly day, and there were no actual windows to keep the wind out:
Nope, still no invaders. Better have another picnic..
As it turns out, this shelter had been visited by a number of illustrious historical figures:
James Cook 1769
Able (sic) Tasman
Anyway, this kind of country definitely sorts the sheep from the goats.
The goats are feral not farmed, and every now and then they have a cull. This little mob were all billy goats and they were eating the flower buds off the thistles, which is an effective form of thistle control if you have enough goats. Luckily we weren't downwind of them.
And finally, the gun emplacements themselves, just down the hill from the lookout. I assume they communicated by radio because although it looks like shouting distance, on a normal Makara day your voice would get ripped away inland and nobody would hear you but the sheep (and goats).
"OI! WE'RE BEING INVADED!"
Anyway, these things were large circular pads with little concrete shelters over them, and they had anti-ship guns mounted on them for the quick dispatch of any invading troops. The guns were dismantled in 1945 but the emplacements are still there.
This is more or less what passes for historical ruins in New Zealand. There are also old pa sites, however New Zealand's available building material being historically mainly wood, old buildings are rare to see. There's actually a pa site at Makara, however the main thing to be seen is terracing from the landworks involved in pa life.
Anyway, this is what I did on Sunday when I should have been studying. I think that getting my dose-o-Jodi and vitamin D actually helped with exam-readiness. At least, that's my story and I'm sticking to it.
* Happy, whose work makes sure he's up to the play with climate science research, reckons that there's a strong correlation between negative attitude to windfarms in your local area, and wind farm illness. Interesting, that.
Also, I am having an outbreak of pompholyx (warning, slightly gross picture). Mine doesn't get that bad, I just get the little vesicles and the heinous itching on my fingers and feet. It's brought on by stress. I blame the exam and fully expect them to go away right now because I don't have exams any more so nyah.
I have to wait till after 17 November for my results. I think this is grossly unfair and that they should mark mine today.