Wairere Falls af­ter 30 years

Walking New Zealand - - Front Page - Words by Anne Man­ning Pho­tos by Brittany Man­ning and Anne Man­ning

As a teenager trav­el­ling from Te Aroha to Mata­mata my fam­ily would com­ment about the wa­ter­fall that could clearly be seen in the Kaimai Ranges.

My first phys­i­cal con­tact with the area came when at Bi­ble class camp at Okauia near Mata­mata.

One of the lead­ers had a truck with a deck and a group of us piled on the back and off to the falls we went. I re­mem­ber even then be­ing taken with the moss cov­ered boul­ders, the stream with it’s many pools, and the green of the veg­e­ta­tion and the many tree roots. My group only did the lower part of the walk.

Thirty years were to elapse be­fore I re­turned to the falls; this time with my daugh­ter.

I still re­mem­ber the hard labour of climb­ing up the Old Maori Trail to reach the top of the falls. The ef­fort was worth­while and the view of the Waikato plains glo­ri­ous. I was in­trigued by the very flat area at the top and could un­der­stand why those who left the path could eas­ily be lost.

We kept the stream in view and found a very worn sign telling of the people - Maori, mis­sion­ar­ies, and ex­plor­ers who had used the trail to cross the Kaimai Ranges to Tau­ranga. I have looked for this sign since but never found it. Per­haps it has dis­ap­peared as has the deer hunter’s hut.

Over the years I have re­turned to the falls and taken ad­van­tage of the work DOC has done by putting in steps and stair­cases to make the climb so much eas­ier. The plat­form half way up is great for tak­ing pho­tos of the falls and pro­vides a wel­come rest.

One Easter my son, grand­daugh­ter , grand­son and I set out to go to the top of the falls.

Walk­ing along with the young ones made one look with new eyes as they fol­lowed the stream, look­ing at the rocks and froth­ing wa­ter. The bridges were works of art in the way they curved around and Nikau Palms in par­tic­u­lar were abun­dant.

The next sec­tion was the climb to the plat­form and the chance to pho­to­graph these spec­tac­u­lar falls. The climb con­tin­ued pass­ing through na­tive for­est.

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