This was straight after we had come down from Kau point… Fergus and I were already pretty tired from climbing up cliffs and down into underground passages but decided to go to Fort Balance which was just round the next point. We have been there before but not for a couple of years. We drove round to where the gully was and parked the car and then proceeded to follow the track up the hill… Unfortunately it was the wrong track and we ended up climbing through bracken for 45 minutes before coming out way too high up and being blocked going down by a large and vertical cliff. Luckily the was an unmarked radar station of some sort which had a road up to it that we could go down to the fort.
When we got there there was a couple of people taking photos there already and I think we gave them a bit of a fright since technically it is still military land and it probably didn’t help that I was wearing khaki cargo pants that were a bit military looking 🙂
Anyway as it turned out the light was pretty much at its best just as we got there even if we were a bit worn out…
Wrights hill Fortress is THE best preserved WW2 fortresses that I have been to. It is currently being restored by a small group of enthusiasts and is open on most public holidays. If you are in the area on a public holiday it is definitely worth going to see it.
I managed to get a bit of a look round without the crowds when one of the photographers, Bev, who I do some assisting for planned a photo shoot there so we went along to do a recci before the shoot and of course I took some test shots also 🙂
It was originally meant to have 3 guns but only 2 ever got built. The only time they were fired was when they were “proofed” and the force of the shock wave broke the windows of houses at the bottom of the hill.
Some shots of Fort Buckley. I stress these were just test/location shots as the day I went the light was super bright 🙂
Fort Buckley at the entrance to the Kaiwharawhara gorge housed a couple of guns for defense of the inner harbor and was originally built around 1885.
When I was there at the end of 2009 it looked like the area was getting an upgrade with a new walking track down to the gun pits.
More location shots of bunkers again today. This time above Seatoun, these were to protect Port Dorset which lay on the other side of the ridge and the harbor entrance.
There are some old images of it HERE although the two gun pits are pretty much just rubble.
These were by far the most overgrown battlements and it looked like someone had been living in one of them. I especially liked how the metal shutters on one of them had rusted to look like lace.
In some places houses have been built only meters away from some of these structures so it makes you wonder how much longer they will last…
Looking back at some images on my hard drive I found a couple of series of WW2 Gun Emplacements and Observation Posts that I wandered around from late 2008… The idea was to go round all the sites and take reference images and then go to the National Archives, National Library and Military Museums and get historical images and try to put a book together…Maybe with all the renewed interest with the military selling off lots of its land this is something I should re-look at.
Sinclair Head Forward Observation Post was a radio post used for spotting ships coming through the Cook Straight. I assume that it was relayed up to Wrights Hill where the main battery of guns were. You can see where the radio antenna was located in the main lookout.
This was about a 3 hour walk around the Red Rocks Reserve and then straight up a hill bordering on a cliff… That being said these were the best preserved and least graffiti-ed remains that I have found to date.
On the front of Fridays Dominion Post there was an article about the military wanting to sell off the land that a number of the historic fortresses are on. A few years ago I decided to go and investigate all of the old forts and battlements around Wellington and found this one while looking for something else… I think these were taken around 2008… I have kept meaning to try and get actual permission to go back since this one and a couple of others are on Military land but have never got round to it… Possibly because I have no idea where to ask 🙂
Here are some shots of Fort Balance which was built in the 1880s. There is a good article HERE which details most of the history of the fort.