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.
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.