So when settlers first arrived in New Zealand, they set about rapidly clearing out the bush and it’s endemic wild animals. To restore the balance, the NZ Government creates highly managed sanctuaries where they re-introduce things like kiwi and other birdlife (there were only birds here before humans). They are basically inland islands where we say sorry to nature.
To get there, we rocketed down one of New Zealand’s heart-rending, arse-bruising unpaved roads. As soon as you see this sign, you know you are in a special place:
Clambering out of the car into 24 degree heat on Christmas Day is a little different to back home in Ireland, but we plunged gamely on. The border between farmland and bush is insanely clear, and wandering into the dense native planting instantly puts you in mind of being an extra in Lord of the Rings.
We push on into the bush and follow the gently undulating path which shoots like an arrow for the falls. Everywhere around is alive with birdlife and dense bush which you can barely see through. Kiwi are only active at night, so we won’t see them today but their presence is totally clear with heaps of human intervention evident as you wander along.
All the time you ears are full of the sound of thundering water of a river you won’t see until much closer to the falls. It all lends the place a massively atmospheric vibe.
Everywhere around, tui and kereru flap around, and the bush is alive with the sound of birdsong.
Finally, around a small wooden bridge you are confronted with 54m of waterfall thundering down a sheer cliff. A cool mist wraps itself around you; a sensational feeling on a warm and sunny day. It’s an awesome sight, both huge and loud. You want to dive right into it!
Doing this sort of thing is making me realise more and more that I should have done much more hiking while I was here in NZ. Oh well! Just have to come back when we settle down and do even more of it.
I’ve got to share this advert, because honestly, everything here you can do, and there are 100 more unexplored corners like it.