Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Staring into the abyss

Some of you may already be aware that I was made redundant a couple of weeks ago - I'm not going to talk about that here (comment or email if you want to know more), but it does mean I've had a bit of "spare" time on my hands.

If you can see my Reader Shared Items (also over there on the right), you might have seen me share a post on Twisted Sifter about bellmouth spillways.

I've always found the idea of these things terrifying and fascinating, because they can produce something that looks like this:

. . . which, I'm sure you'll agree, is even scarier than Bethan post-sugar.

The beauty of TEH INTARNET means that my father was able to point out that one of these CIRCULAR CHASMS OF HOPELESSNESS exists in (where else?) Auckland. Well, not far out of Auckland, at least.

It is up in the Waitakeres, which is something like my spiritual homeland, if I went in for that kind of thing. There are a few reservoirs up there providing some of the drinking (and presumably showering, and bog-flushing) water for Auckland. One of them has one of these.

Since I had something to pick up from Auckland, I decided I'd make a bit more of a day of it, and go and look at this thing. As luck would have it, my good friend Eion is currently in Auckland, so I picked him up on the way.

It's the Lower Huia Reservoir we were after, but I didn't know that until later. Here it is on a map:

View Larger Map

We stopped at the Lower Nihotupu Reservoir, but soon realised it wasn't what we were looking for, and continued.

If anyone wants to go there (and I suggest you do, it's well worth it), you go through the little town of Huia, then turn right immediately after the one-lane bridge, and park up the end by the closed gate.

We did this the first time, but were discouraged by the closed gate, and turned back around. Good thing I had Eion with me, as he is man enough to ask for directions at a shop, unlike me. We were duly pointed back to where we'd come from.

The 'five minute walk' is a little more than that - maybe fifteen minutes - but completely worth it. You walk up the road, which goes steeply up the face of the dam.

Once you're on top of the dam, you can see the beautiful (although quite empty) reservoir amongst the bush-clad hills, and even out to sea in the other direction.


At the other end of the dam is what appears to be a jetty, sticking out into the reservoir - just walk across the road on top of the dam to it.


See, it's just a nice, harmless OH MY GOD WHAT THE HELL IS THAT DON'T LOOK DOWN


The nice little jetty goes directly over the entrance to hell centre of the bell-mouth spillway.

It's difficult to give a proper idea of the real size (and more importantly, the depth) of this thing. I'd guess it's about ten metres across, and between 4000 and 5000km deep.

Eion and I wavered between leaning as far as we could over the fence, fascinated by it, then suddenly realising the possibility of falling, and crouching down, clinging to the railing and gibbering with fear.

We took some photos:

Note the safety stance.


Note the white face of terror.


This thing has massive fins on it, which I found horrifying, partly because they're a little too much like teeth, and partly because they remind me of another terrifying concrete structure, the Ryugyong.


It wasn't until we were about to leave the we realised the small circular hole in the bridge couldn't possibly be a drain. No, it was a direct portal into the evil depths viewing hole exactly over the centre of the spillway:


Please go and look at it, the photos really do not do it justice. Just make sure you take some Valium or something.



Here's that bit of sea I was talking about:


It really is quite picturesque up there (assuming you ignore the vortex to another world):


So, if you're in Auckland, go and have a look. It's about a fifteen to twenty minute drive past Titirangi, not far, and totally worth it.

Next time I will take Bethan and some rope.


JamesHip said...

Great photos, great commentary; I could feel your angst.

geofft said...

Satan's hydroslides... from HELL.

WebAsh said...

Love the "look of terror" photo... scary "shit bricks" sort of hole.

afraid said...

4000-5000KM?????? Is joke.

Don't know if I could look down into it. I swear I can see H.P. Lovecraft staring back at me in one of those photos.

notHamilton said...

Having not been back to NZ for 2.5 year, I always enjoy a photographic reminder of the hair cut. As of course, things don't reset in your memory until you refresh the cache in person. Loved the abyss, did you find a yellow digger to stand on and yell into it? There's a good Shins song to accompany the experience.

tonyH said...

Missed this - it didn't seem to appear in Bzuz. Did you still miss the Lower Nihotupu beast which I recommended, or just write it off because, from memory, no walkway directly over it, and no fins?
Or too easy as it's just off the main road (via scary carpark entrance). But hey, good research and exploration, thanks for taking me to the Huia one which I have tramped past in days of yore but not stopped to boggle at. And Afraid should be reassured it is at least 5000km - you can feel the heat emanating from the depths.

mattyboy said...

Would be ten times cooler going there when the water's flowing into it, as per the first photo on your post.

PS. Didn't know you'd been made redundant

Anonymous said...

that's... so scary. Imagine someone falls in there o_o

Bozar said...

Really terryfying! I wonder if any crazy skater or biker tried to ride down this pipe :D