So says an information board at the Aniwaniwa Visitor Centre at Waikaremoana in Te Urewera National Park. We know this well, so before heading down that way with the tent this weekend, we carefully checked the weather forecast. "Mostly fine, with occasional showers", it advised, and the nice weather charts indicated a high pressure area settling over the North Island. And, to be fair, the showers were occasional; just one in fact: it started as we were putting the tent up and was still in full swing nearly two days later when we gave up waiting for the fine bit and headed back over the ranges along a very muddy road.
Cresting the pass this afternoon and dropping down towards Murupara the thick grey clouds quickly broke up into little fluffy white ones and we saw the sun at last. It was pretty obvious then what was happening. A classic case of relief rainfall. A nice south-easterly wind was picking up moisture out in Hawke Bay and as the air was forced to rise over the Te Urewera ranges it was cooling and dropping out its moisture as that incessant rain. On the other side of the ranges, the air fell, it warmed and the clouds simply vanished before our eyes.
Still, we did manage to get round the Ruapani track yesterday – it is just stunning – there are few places left in NZ where you can walk for five hours through native forest and (apart from your fellow walkers) just have the tui, kereru and kaka for company. And – I did get to hear a kiwi call last night – that’s always special.
We’ll certainly be back – expecting rain.