The poise and grace starts on land.

Sloping Te Mata Peak land at that. Tethered to what look like a tent destroyed in a cyclone, they back down the slope, a sheer drop behind them.

A gentle pull here and there, and the tent's guide ropes straighten, no one is going anywhere until the shafts of cord that meet at their human apex are sorted.

And when they are, more gentle pulling, until a chute surges skyward, and hovers vertically, until its pilot pirouettes to face the drop, steps off the peak and silently, away they go.


After navigating mapless along a Te Mata Park track, the succession of paragliders launching on a beautiful Hawke's Bay day were a bonus. I rued not having my cellphone, it was a great video opportunity.

That day, blue as far as the eye could see, it had somehow seemed wrong to cart my cellphone around nature.

As to why I didn't take a map, I'm not sure.

Because on the descent, we - several people actually - got lost trying to find their way back to the spanking new Te Mata Park carpark.

In the end, it was a phone that halted our incorrect exit plan. A fellow walker fired up some sort of GPS app and pointed out two dots that were cause for alarm. One was the carpark and one was our location.

They were not particularly close.

We began to ask people coming toward us ... "is the carpark this way?"

"No. I don't want to give you bad news but you're quite a long way from it."


It's always intriguing how people precede bad news by saying they don't want to give it to you, and then they immediately do.

As if they think that saying they don't want to give you the news soften the blow of the bad news.

I like my bad news served fresh, piping hot, no "prepare yourself" entree. Just give it to me.

Especially when I'm getting hungry and angry ... "hangry" and have led strangers down the wrong path in the vast garden that is Te Mata Park.

As it was, our helper was exaggerating slightly. Another walker came along and said "follow me".

He led our group and one other to an entry point to the track that would take us home, we thanked him cheerfully and then stood about trying to work out where road we were on stopped and the track home started.

A scout was sent ahead of the main party and called out after finding an elusive plastic triangle.

We pressed on, up actually, still not convinced we were on the right track.

Finally, someone who looked less knackered than us came toward us.

"Is the carpark this way".


We pressed on again, firmly, one of us slightly perplexed as she had come this way the previous weekend with a friend, but couldn't remember a thing.

The new carpark is a wonderful sight, even more so when you stagger out of the bush, pop the boot of your car and rip into a sandwich kept cool in a makeshift chilly bin.

Take your time on Te Mata, take some water and food with you as well, and yep, take a map.