Day 4: Waterfalls and Beaches
A late start after last night’s riotous Hogmanay celebrations – haha! Last night we wandered along to the pub for a beer and to watch the sunset on the beach. Stopped on the way to help a couple of blokes get their boat into the water as it was beached. Then came back for tea – ‘damp stew’ – Nigel’s description! We read for a bit, played cards then poured ourselves a Hogmanay drink and came out to watch the fireworks and the stars and wish each other Happy New Year.
So back to Day 4 – New Year’s Day so it must be 1st January and it must be Wednesday? A very gentle day but a lovely start to 2020.
Part 1: Waterfall. After a coffee and a browse of the shops we headed off to Waiotemarama Waterfall. Might as well do the other end of the walk we did yesterday – seems like a good bookend to the end of the year and the start of a new one.
Waiotemarama Road is a through road and so you can start at either end. We set off from Opononi campsite and turned left towards Rawene then Waiotemarama Road is about 2km further on ont he right. It is a metalled road right the way through – about 8km to the waterfall car park. How long it takes depends on whether the local farmers are moving bulls!
The walk to the waterfall is only 550m according to the DoC sign which was remarkably accurate. It’s a gentle climb on a well-made path. The waterfall tumbles down in stages to a small pool surrounded by boulders. A family were playing so we carried on past up the hill. According to the description of Hauturu Highpoint we read in a RamblerNZ blog there is a stand of Kauri on a loop track on the trail that leads to Hauturu. That description and the DoC one talk about the track being steep and rugged. Clearly there has been a heap of work done on it recently and there is now a well-built boardwalk and plenty of steps.
As we climbed up we started to see Kauri trees, young rickers as well as mature and maturing kauri. It really is beautiful. The forest is not so dense that you can’t see them and there is plenty of light for other trees and ferns to grow. I think this walk even rivals the Waipoua Forest for the number of trees or at least that feeling that you are amongst them and they are abundant. Maybe it’s because we were climbing through them so could see them all around us.
We kept on climbing expecting to reach a junction but one never came!
In the end I checked the TOPO map on my phone to find that we had climbed up to a high point at 350m – well past the loop track junction. We had already had glimpses of Hauturu Highpoint and at this level we had a clearer view of it. It is always good to see where you have been and make a note of it! I have to admit I was tempted to keep going and try to get there but we weren’t dressed for it, nor did we have any food and enough water. We also suspected that the trail would be much more rugged from here on in.
Back down we went keeping an eye out for any junction we had missed. We definitely hadn’t and we wonder if DoC have taken it out when the boardwalk and steps have been put in. It makes sense to have one route, elevated to protect the Kauri.
Back at the waterfall, I couldn’t resist standing underneath it to cool off. So refreshing!
Part 2: Beach. It was well past lunchtime and we planned to go out to Te Arai Uru to explore a bit and have a bite to eat. On the way, we spotted a sign to Mamaku Beach and on impulse – not something we do often – decided to explore. 4kms down a metalled road, it is a beautiful beach at the mouth of the river.
It is also one end of the Coastal Walk that ends up at Signal Box …… or Te Arai Uru which is 10km one way. Too late for today, tide dependent and unless you want to do there and back, you need transport at the other end so there is another one to bank for another day. The tide was on its way out and so the narrow bank of the river was passable – indeed so passable that 4WD cars and scooters were on it. Families paddled, picnicked and relaxed all along the river out to the beach.
We walked right round to the beach itself and parked ourselves up at a washed-up tree trunk and had our picnic. Still eating Christmas ham and lamb! In a bid to escape the black flies that were eating me I jumped into the ocean. Still a bit chilly but there were warm waves washing in too! Then we walked along the beach for a bit watching the waves and the Terns before heading back to the campsite for tea.
On the way back we spotted our mountain again! Hauturu Highpoint and the Waima Range.