06 April 2014

Tarakena Bay

It was a scorcher here in Wellington yesterday - or at least, at 20-odd degrees with no wind it felt warm enough that the capital's residents all uniformly decided that it was mandatory to get out and enjoy the environs. They know full well that such days are rare enough as it is, but when they come in April they are freighted with the additional knowledge that they might be the last opportunity for t-shirts to be worn in public for six long months of the wind-lashed colder seasons.

After messing around in the morning, venturing into town to the library and wandering back along the waterfront in the unfamiliar glare, I headed to the south coast, which is perhaps my favourite part of the city. The drive down Ohiro Road from the nestled hilltop village of Brooklyn to the sleepy seaside community of Happy Valley is a good starter, and then I generally pick a bay to explore.

Yesterday's choice was at the far end past the airport and Moa Point - the lovely isolated crescent of Tarakena Bay. South-facing and fringed by jagged rocks, the bay is overlooked by the wind-swept hill occupied by the Ataturk Memorial. The park of the same name was dedicated in 1985 and the monument itself - an unfortunately uninspiring swoop of municipal tiling-work adorned with a bust of Turkey's legendary first president - was opened in 1990. On visiting Gallipoli in 2002 it was explained that as a gesture of reconciliation between Turkey, Australia and New Zealand, Turkish territory in the former war zone was in effect considered Anzac soil, in return for dedicating memorials to Mustafa Kemal Ataturk in Wellington and Canberra. (It was a while ago, so I may be a little shaky on the details). In any case, a small portion of Gallipoli rests underneath the memorial, with a container of Turkish soil having been buried beneath the monument.

Aside from the connection with a former enemy turned friend, the Ataturk Memorial boasts superb views over Cook Strait and the heads, particularly on a pretty day like yesterday.  After climbing the hill to the memorial I ambled through the grass to Palmer Head, the headland immediately south on the eastern side of the bay. There a few people fished with lines and hand-reels and a lone bibliophile sat on a portable camp chair, reading while facing out to the trackless seas, now and then glancing up at the view dead south to Antarctica.

Tarakena Bay from the Ataturk Memorial

Ataturk Memorial (1990)

Tarakena Bay fishing expedition

View west from Palmer Head

View north from Palmer Head - Ataturk Memorial on headland to right
See also:
BlogSeatoun to Breaker Bay, 11 January 2014
BlogFur seals at Red Rocks, 25 May 2013
Blog: Highbury to south coast walk, 17 February 2013
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