It was a dirt road. What the hell, it wasn't our car. (And we forded a stream.) The road went up and down (slightly) and this way and that. We never saw hilltops (shrouded in mist) or the head of the valley (not allowed to go there). There were freshly fallen rocks on the road.
There was the odd house. I mean, not strange but few and far between. We didn't see a soul. Which, of course, was one of the objects of the exercise. There is a Puhi Puhi Scenic Reserve where you can picnic and tramp along a short loop track. There was evidence of one or two campers but we didn't look closely.
The hills were pleasantly rounded and neatly folded behind or in front of each other. On them were sparsely spaced New Zealand sheep. The road was lined in places with Blue Borage.
We crossed the Puhi Puhi River on a nice dull-red bridge. There was an almost-gorge beneath.
New Zealand is lovely even in the rain.
Wherever you go in the world, there's always someone who wants to keep you out of somewhere. The Puhi Puhi Valley was no exception. Some rich so-and-so showed off his landowning. There is nothing guaranteed to get my goat more than a sign telling me to keep out of private property. It makes we want to get on over there PDQ.
The Department of Conservation's warning is ambiguous isn't it? Were we to assume that beyond this point all the land was conservation land? Or that we could proceed beyond that point but not trespass on the conserved bits (but how would they be delineated?).
The decision was taken out of our hands by the Rickety Rackety Bridge over the Jordan Stream. We may not have been in our car but wild horses wouldn't have got me to drive over this.
The road continued enticingly on the other side. We didn't have our road map with us, which added to the sense of entering the unknown (or means we are completely unprepared dolts). In fact, we were at least two thirds of the way up the Valley, but I didn't know that until later. Right then I felt cheated. We turned back and I made the most of my surroundings…
…and looked forward to a hot shower and a lovely last supper at Hapuku Lodge.