By Iola Goulton
At the weekend, my husband and I often go out for a drive. We usually start with brunch in a nearby town—maybe Hobbiton (because we can), a beachfront café, or somewhere more scenic. Then we might go to the beach, or have a look around some local shops.
Last weekend, after we’d had a lovely brunch at Flat White in Waihi, we drove to a nearby waterfall. Lovely. The sky was blue, and the sun was shining. There is a lovely view of the falls from the road:
The Waiere Falls spill over the top of the Kaimai ranges in the background. The falls are 153m (450ft) high, and follow the Okauia fault line (it pays not to think about what the phrase "fault line" means).
We have an excellent Department of Conservation who mark out trails to local landmarks. Some trails are mere walks—a couple of hours on a well-marked dirt track (no, not concrete footpaths or wooden boardwalks except in the most touristy areas). Others trails are longer, less well marked, and require a greater degree of preparation, and some knowledge of bushcraft. If we were doing that walk, we wouldn’t call it a walk. We’d say we were going tramping.
Then he suggested we walk to the falls. I was hesitant. I’d dressed in a skirt and leather jacket—appropriate attire for a drive and brunch. Not appropriate attire for a bush walk. Even if it was a walk, not a tramp. This is not the appropriate footwear for a bush walk:
He assured me the walk was flat. So I agreed.
Waiere Falls, our destination, had a sign giving visitors some walking options— 45 minutes to the lookout, 1½ hours to the top of the waterfall, and a 7-hour tramp to cross the range. The walk to the lookout sounded manageable, especially as we passed through native New Zealand bus that looks as though it's straight out of a Lord of the Rings set:
As we progressed, we started going uphill. It was a gradual climb at first, and then it got steeper and steeper. I commented. Apparently, he remembered it being flatter. This is not a flat walk:
This was only half the staircase … and there was a lot of climbing before we got to the stairs. New Zealand Tramper describes this as a “cruisy gradual climb”. Yeah, right. Not in a skirt and ballet flats, when everyone else on the track was wearing leggings and trainers.
The fitness app on his iPhone says we climbed the equivalent of 64 flights of stairs. He says it can’t have been that much. I say it felt like all that, and more.
But the view was worth it:
Maybe next time I’ll have the energy (and the footwear) to get to the top of the falls! Yes, the track goes all the way up.