Windy on the Skyline Walkway

I had the second half of an afternoon to kill earlier today, and went for a short walk down to Otari Wilton’s Bush, not far from where I live. Somehow I ended up on the Skyline Walkway, maybe because I forgot to stop and turn around, but it all worked out okay. This morning was calm and sunny, but by now there was an increasingly strong nor-westerly in the air, which makes sense given a southerly’s due here soon. (ie. Air circles around low pressure systems clockwise in the southern hemisphere so it was characteristic that the wind was coming from the north-west right now… I’m slowly getting better at this, heh heh.) I’d left my camera at home, but took my GPS and so ended up with this map.

[Download GPX] [LINZ Topographic Map in new window]

Along the ridge-top of the Skyline Walkway, the wind was really starting to blow — not to a leaning-against-it level, but certainly enough to cause the odd stumbling. It also wasn’t enough for the turbines over at the Makara Wind Farm to be switched off. The area’s full of high-tension power lines, and they make a major racket when the wind’s blowing through them to that extent.

Funnily enough, I notice that Erick Brenstrum recently wrote a short piece over on the Met Service Blog about ridge top winds, and how they operate.

I met the odd person coming down, but the presence of other people evaporated as I moved along the ridge. I eventually ended up at the junction to turn down to Chartwell Drive, and had to sit down behind a big rock for some relief by that point — seriously. Having just experienced some quite extreme wind, without even having crossed what is usually the windiest part of the ridge (ie. the saddle area between there and Bells’ Track), I decided that right now was the time to get down. I think the last time I’ve felt wind that strong was on the tops in the Ruahines a couple of years ago (despite them being about 4-5 times the elevation), and it wasn’t pleasant then either. It probably would have been possible to get over to Bells’ Track and get down that way without a serious incident, but in this particular case I’m using the word “probably” in its most literal sense and it didn’t seem worth the gamble. And so I followed the track down to the top of Chartwell Drive, with a violent wild tail-wind pushing me along for the first hundred metres or so before I was properly into sheltered space, after which everything returned to normality — the most fierce wind now being channelled some distance above.

It was a worthwhile couple of hours’ walk, in the end, albeit very windy in places. I even managed to stop to grab a few groceries on the way home, which seems to’ve shown up in the map since I’m slack about removing these details.

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