Posted by: rivettingkatetaylor | November 18, 2010

taking the scenic route

It pays to smile at the co-pilot when you board a little plane.

Upon giving some cheek about whether I had an aisle seat or a window seat (I was on one of those little skinny planes with only one seat on each side and barely room to carry a laptop bag in the aisle) I realised I did, in fact, only have an aisle seat as I stared glumly at the side of the plane. The front three seats don’t have windows.

Why does it pay to smile at the co-pilot? He comes up and tells you there’s a spare seat at the back of the plane with a view! Excellent.

To this day, despite two visits to New Plymouth, I have yet to confirm the existence of Mt Taranaki.  The only evidence I have is a bank of clouds over a triangle peak to the west when on a plane. Yesterday’s flight for me was a closer view than I’m used to. Usually I am flying from Hawke’s Bay or Palmerston North airports to Auckland, Wellington or Christchurch. This time it was PN to Hamilton in a pencil. Over unchartered territory for rivettingkatetaylor.

Mt Ruapehu was absolutely stunning with wisps of cloud covering the crater lake and snow still masking the top of Whakapapa and Turoa (I think, I couldn’t see evidence of ski fields). I did see what I think was the lahar scar down the mountain that took out the train at Tangiwai many years ago.

I also manged to see a train on the train tracks moment before, to my delight, recognising the famous Raurimu Spiral from the air, which the train was about to enter.

Raurimu spiral from the air


I enjoyed following the lines of a river as it twisted and turned (I assumed it was the Rangitikei River). My eyes followed the deepening shadows as the sun left its deep river valleys until the river disappeared beneath the plane (not literally 🙂 )

Erosion scars from past storms were clearly visible on so many of the hills.

As if the thrusting up of line after line of hills and valleys didn’t create an effective enough pattern, the 6pm shadows created their own music on the hill tops, like the black keys of a piano. The occasional country road leading to a solitary farm house or sometimes a cluster of sheds, woolsheds and yards. 

And then, with one glance away and back to the window, the hills were gone and replaced with lush rolling farmland and a myriad of patchwork paddocks, complete with little strings of green peas all over the place (balage in case you were wondering!)

Ding dong. Seatbelts on. There’s Ohakea. There’s Feilding. There’s Rongotea (what a rectangular-shaped little town!) Perhaps not in that order. As I said earlier, I’m not too familiar with this side of the island. I can point out Oamaru, Waimate, Palmerston (south, obviously) ….. or any one of the southern lakes on the way down the South Island (who will ever forget coming in to Queenstown Airport between the Remarkables and the Crown Range – perhaps my hills aren’t quite in the right place but you know what I mean!). But it was a welcome change to see a new slice of Aotearoa from the air this week.

 Thank you Air NZ, thank you to the passenger across the way for the chat and the local knowledge on the landscape below and thank you to the Ballance Farm Environment Awards, which was the reason for the flight!

And for all those who are smart about the weather in Hamilton – it was a sunny and warm two days (shame we were inside a conference room with no windows for most of it 😦 ). I had to laugh on the news this morning though when they said Hamilton Airport was fogged in!



  1. Hi Kate

    I’m taking the train back from Wellington on Monday so will be travelling the Raurimu spiral for the first time ever :). Wonder what it will be like travelling such and engineering feat (sp?)


  2. […] We also talked about the Raurimu Spiral from a blog I did the other day about “taking the scenic route“. […]

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