Outside of Palmerston North lies the end of the Ruahine mountain range and the start of the Tararua mountain range. The two ranges are separated by the Manawatu Gorge, containing the Manawatu River. The gorge and river are unique as it is one of the few still running rivers to cut entirely through a mountain range (supposedly the only in the southern hemisphere). In order to do so, the Manawatu has to be an ancient river, in that it predated the two mountain ranges on either side. The gorge was formed but the mountains rising upwards and the river continually keeping it’s place, causing sheer walls of rock to go up on either side – normally, a gorge would form by water funneling and eroding it’s way down out of the mountains.
Wind also tends the funnel and be consistent in the area. Thus, energy companies have put up a few wind turbines. Actually, more than a few, the area is home to the largest wind farm in the southern hemisphere (there are over 150 in total here).
Standing under one of these turbines, you get an appreciation of just how MASSIVE these things are.
Then it was off to the gorge itself. Unfortunately, the weather clouded over quickly, adding a dreary tone to the pictures.
The hike gives 5 viewpoints. This is the first, just at the edge of the gorge itself.
The second gives another good look at more turbines.
The third lookout is the main one – the gorge itself! Okay, it really wasn’t very spectacular. I guess from a geographical perspective it’s really neat, but from a scenery one…I wasn’t overly excited.
The 4th viewpoint gives another lookout at the river and a good view of some of the turbines on the far side.
At that point, nearly 2 hours in, I turned around (it wasn’t a loop track). I couldn’t be bothered with the 5th and final viewpoint (nearly an hour further). Being one of the main walks in the region, it was pretty blah. Good exercise (as you climb up quickly), but the views were just those 4 – otherwise, you are in solid trees/bush. As much as I enjoy hiking, I do enjoy being rewarded for doing so, with nice views. So instead, I went back to Palmerston North and had some tasty Fish and Chips to celebrate my hiking. Yum!