Mt Kaukau & closing of Reel Brazil series (29th August 2009)

Was up early this morning to see if Chris was still planning to head out for a walk up Mt Kaukau. Weather forecast didn't look too good and given I'm the least experience in outdoor activities between us two, I left it to Chris to make the final call - he said we should go! Ok, let's go then!

Mt Kaukau is the highest point overlooking Wellington harbour and getting up there is one of the items in my 2009 list of must-do activities. Exciting! Went to pick Chris up around 10am, did a short stop at Thorndon New World for us to grab some buns, salad and ham for lunch and then off we went in search of our mountain.

There are several walking tracks that leads to the summit - we chose the shortest one that goes up from Khandallah Park on Woodmancote Road in Khandallah (a suburb about 4kms away from Wellington city centre). Took us about 45 minutes walking up a steep hill to the top and this was supposed to be an easy walk! I can feel the burn in my thighs, calves and butt - keep up, girl, it's good exercise!! And I'm getting warmer too!!

We passed a couple of viewing points as we made our way up through the bush tracks and took photos as we went, me with my small digital camera and Chris with his huge SLR. Mt Kaukau stands 445m high and is topped with a communications mast (which looks somewhat like the Eiffel Tower to me). Spectacular views of Wellington from here but it was slightly overcast and windy at the top - not so great for photos. It would have been a good place to have a picnic on a nice sunny day but not today. Just getting swept by the cold winds...brr...Photos taken on our little hike this morning: http://www.flickr.com/photos/8070917@N05/sets/72157622173329190/detail/

We decided to head out to Makara in search of the wind turbines we saw from Mt Kaukau and have our picnic lunch there. Stopped by a cute cafe in Ngaio for me to grab a coffee - haha, was quite funny to see this sign in the shop that said: "If first you don't succeed, hide all evidences that you've tried". Nice!

Took a cruisy drive through Makara Hills towards the beach to find a lunch spot - I always enjoy this drive through the hills, passing by farms and just zig-zagging my way to the beach. It feels as if I've been taken out and away from the city into the rural NZ but I'm actually still in Wellington itself. Plenty of farm land and pine trees, even sharing the roads with folks on horseback some days.

Gee, the weather hasn't been kind to us today - it's equally windy here at Makara beach! Ended up having our lunch in my car (haha, Chris, don't worry about the crumbs - I'll sort it out later) and headed back into town around 2pm. Thanks for the great company, Chris! Look forward to more walks as we move into spring :)

Oh, and we couldn't get to the wind turbines - private access. Boo...

Went to meet up with Liviu at the Film Archive around 6.45pm to attend the closing of the Reel Brazil series event. Cost us $15 each to see Brazilian documentaries Jorjao and We Are Samba, plus our ticket also gets us a free caipirinha and $5 discount for subsequent ones at Southern Cross Bar after the show. The closing was also a fundraiser for the Wellington Batucada where 50% of all ticket sales goes towards the group.

Poor Liviu - we were trying to catch up about what's been going on in our lives over the past week but we kept getting interrupted as I saw another familiar face and had to pause our conversation to say hello. Yes, I do know lots of people in this town ;)

The two documentaries were really good. Jorjao was a documentary about batista director, Master Jorjao, a well-known man in the samba schools in Rio, who talked about his relationships with the dancers and percussion players and how he introduced funk beats into traditional samba carnival beats. Amazing colours and sounds as we followed him through the days leading to the big Rio carnival and being in the parade. We Are Samba, on the other hand, was a heartwarming documentary about a group of Canadians from different ethnic backgrounds living in Toronto who got together to form their own batista and telling us their stories of how the samba rhythms changed their lives.

The crowd started to make our way to Southern Cross Bar where the closing party was held with Brazealand band starting their gig at 9.30pm. Was on the dance floor as usual and laughing heaps at Liviu - he doesn't know any samba steps but was having fun dancing in his own style in the crowd. He reminded me of our dear Claus (now happily settled with his new life in Melbourne), who at parties would be running around like a 5-year-old kid, all excited and eager to be part of the party. Hahaha! Had a bit of a boogie with Leandro too and friends Rodney, Scott, Chris and Alicia came to join in as the night progressed.

The music played tonight was not very Brazilian in my books. Lots of fused songs like Michael Jackson's Beat It sung with a samba beat or tunes from Bob Marley. Hmm...Was feeling tired and needed to be up early tomorrow to catch up with Hew for breakfast so left for home around 11.30pm.

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