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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 [1]] [LINZ Topographic Map in new window [2]]

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 [3].

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.

2 Comments (Open | Close)

2 Comments To "Windy on the Skyline Walkway"

#1 Comment By Wayne Clark On 29 August, 2015 @ 2:44 pm

i last did it 30 years ago before it was an official walk and juset walked over farmers land without permission, , mid summer, perfect weather, i walked through to tawa. the only people i saw were a couple of people tending their horses in a paddock
i was visiting wellington and had some time to kill today and did it again. despite cold very windy overcast weather, there were dozens of mountain runners , groups of up to ten,
an elaborate MTB park well signposted on makara peak that never existed 30 years ago.. times have chane

#2 Comment By Mike McGavin On 6 September, 2015 @ 6:34 pm

Hi Wayne. Thanks for that and yes it’s very popular with people who live nearby. I think part of this is that it’s so easy to back down to civilisation if conditions are too hard to manage. There are definitely a couple of particular places (esp around the cluster of high tension power pylons) where it can get extremely windy in a northerly, but if I can stand up in that part I normally don’t get concerned about any of the rest of it.