Just don't look down
I wanted to go when it was still wet season, there would good water flowing through for some good photos as well. And of course the others were keen on hitting some trails as well, there is big network of trails out in the Kaimai Ranges and I haven't been to ranges myself.
Ad sets a date for the adventure, it's a Saturday and nearing beginning of spring time, there has been lots of rain recently as well. It's a busy weekend on the calendar though, on the Sunday there is the Xterra Woodhill, which most of the running group are opting to go to, read my other post on why I'm not doing Xterra this year. Which means most the group won't be going to the waterfalls adventure and there is also the North Shore Marathon for the speedy road crew, ah I do remember the times I used to run road races :) But it is what it is. There ends up to be 6 of us, myself, Ad, Liz, Sean, Bronwyn and Hayley W.
It's just over a 2 hour drive down to the falls, we opt to leave at 7am in the morning. Sean has his big 4 wheel drive 7 seater so we all hop into, thanks Sean :) And we are off. Firstly the weather is perfect, like totally perfect no clouds in the sky - that is amazing. Along the way we decide to stop over at Te Aroha, for coffee and refreshments. It's a cute little town, right on the base of Mt Te Aroha - that has to be a future adventure! We stop over at Te Aroha domain for a loo stop, the gardens are small, but again cute. The lawn greens and the small museum at the end reminds me of a miniature version of Rotorua, even the smells as there is a thermal pool at the back!
We are about 30 minutes from the falls car park now. The road is a narrow flat road with the impressive Kaimai Ranges to the left. As we get to the car park, there is already a few cars there and people ready to go out onto the track. After getting all our back pack gear ready: for me - I'm carrying my Sony camera with a kit lens but also have a zoom lens in the bag, along with my knock off GoPro style camera. 2 gorilla pods, a sandwich, banana and hydration pack and my buff. And we're off after a quick selfie of course!
First impressions of the trail is just how rocky it is, just big slabs of rock on the trail. First photo op is at one of the bridges, and then another bridge, which Bronwyn points out how I could frame my shot! I'm telling ya she had her photography hat on that day from the start! There are mini waterfalls all along the way as we cross little and big bridges, something definitely around each corner, the moss growing the rocks, the sun peaking through the trees, the sound of the water rushing down the river. Then we hit the stairs, huge criss crossing stair case, awesome little workout.
As we come off the stairs and some more trail, we approach the first lookout point, seems about mid way through and we can see the whole length of the waterfall, through the bush and with that morning light coming through this is magic. A bit of a stop and a few photos later, we back on the track - ready to hit the top of the waterfalls. It's a good climb up to 400m+ and I have fallen behind the group now, hah my great fitness coming into play again. As we near the top there are glimpses of the spectacular view on the right hand side - the Waikato country, blocks of farm and in the distance the hills and mountains looking at west.
Towards the top part of the track it's a little muddy, nothing too bad really. The others are there already, along the river and now we head to the lip of the falls, there are little cascading falls along the way. We reach the viewing platform, the view is amazing! At this point, we are all doing our separate thing. Hayley and Liz are filming the 22 push challenge videos with those views in the backdrop, the others have got some food out and just taking in the view. For me I want to get to the other side of the river and get onto the edge!
I begin my trek across the river, the flow of the river is not too bad, but the rocks are slippery, like really slippery, slippery enough that I almost fall over!! There is about 5 metres to the edge of the falls, it's a bit hairy, I look back and see Ad and Bronwyn looking at me and gasping a bit! I take it easy for the rest of the way across being extra careful and then down onto these big rocks nestled on the right hand side, on the edge of the waterfalls, by edge I mean over the edge is 150m down!!
I settle in and sit on a rock where the water is not flowing, in a relatively "safe" spot. The view here is amazing, all I can hear the water rushing by me. Under neath me the water goes directly down, ahead of me is the most awesome view of the Waikato - there is no cloud in the sky and can make out some of the hills and mountains further away. To the left of me more rocks and beyond that the viewing platform where I can see the others hanging out doing their thing.
I know I can't be there forever, but I just spend a few moments sitting on the rock taking it all in. And then reliase, I've got a camera in my hand - I better take some photos. I take a wide panaroma to the left is the viewing platform to the right the bush, I take a short video and I also take a few photos of the others on the viewing platform. Hard to describe the feeling, but hopefully the photos do.
I make my way back across the river very carefully, I'm back. The others are ready to go, fair enough. I take out my sandwich, scoff down a quarter, have another quarter in my hand. And we're off - we decide to go further down the Wairere Track - the best thing we did that day!
It starts off pretty muddy, it's definitely not well groomed, it's wild, there is the river / stream running on one side of it and the most beautiful bush throughout. A beautiful green grove welcomes us - trees are really rich saturated green colour, the moss on them making it more so. The light in coming in through the trees. At this point Bronwyn has started to melt in this beauty and start taking photos in burst mode, 30 in each burst! The green extends out onto the river, which I may add is crystal clear, we can see right through it and the rocks on the bottom have green mossy stuff growing on it. There is a great shot from Bronwyn looking down the river with foliage on either side, it's magic. We are in love. The river is quiet, there's nobody else on the track - it's incredibly peaceful, again it's hard to describe in words. But there is more gems to come.
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