New Zealand: Wairere falls
January 1, 1970
by Natalie Jansson
A day at Wairere falls:
When I first stepped off the plane in Auckland, NZ after 30ish hours of traveling I had absolutely no idea what to expect or how beautiful places I would visit. I also had no idea that I in only a month would have stories to last me a lifetime, some crazy, some good, some bad and some with a little bit of everything.
One of my absolute favourites so far has been Wairere falls. This not only for its incredible beauty but also because it happened to become quite the adventure actually…
- Wairere falls is in the top half of the North island of New Zealand.
- The nearest town is Matamata.
- The elevation is about 400 m
- It is a hard, steep walk with a lot of stairs
- The walk is about 4 km
- The drop from the fall is about 90 m
- There are toilets in the beginning of the track
- Dogs are allowed
- You need about 45 min to get to the look-out and 45 min to the top, down is a little bit faster.
I woke up at 8 by my flatmates voices in the hallway, all getting ready for the day to come. I was as usual still in bed, not ready at all, you would think I´ve learned from a few (or rather a lot of) experiences to be prepared wherever the trip is going, but no I wasn´t.
So here comes a few pointers to my future self and anyone who is similar to me:
- Just get out of bed in time, I know that bed is lovely but it´s going to be worth it.
- Think about more scenarios than perfect weather and everything going flawlessly smooth.
- By hiking boots, your tennis shoes are not enough.
- Jeans shorts get very heavy when soaking wet.
- Pack food, just, always pack food.
- Buy food that is easy to bring.
- Listen to mommy´s voice in your head, bring a rain coat.
- Buy a waterproof backpack.
- Bring extra clothes.
- And don´t ever again under any circumstances, go to a party the day before a 4-hour hike (I MEAN IT).
Here is how I came to these insights… Where were we? Morning, right.
So I finally get out of bed with about 10 minutes to go(not on time), a bit more confused than normal considering the party the night before (stupid idea). I start packing and realise I don´t really have any food to bring and I think a water bottle and a small bag of chips will do (it didn´t ). I packed it all in my backpack (non-water proof what so ever) with some other unnecessary things, took på jeans and my tennis shoes, left my rain coat at home (great decision Nat) and went off to the bus. I fell asleep instantly and when I woke up half way there I was stunned by the view outside the window, beautiful green hills stretching along the highway in a beautiful mix of concrete and nature, not that I think concrete is that stunning, bit to be able to ride on that road and right next to that view, that is quite amazing, amazing until you realise that the bus has stopped but the rain hasn´t. We all step out of the bus, excited and not really worried about the weather, so far we´ve only had a few minutes of rain and then the sun has come out right away. So that´s what I thought would be the case again. Judging from my previous list of pointers you might have figured, that was not the case this time…
We had at this point reached the beginning of the hike and walked away in good spirit.
A while went by and the rain wouldn’t stop, we started realising the weather might not improve when we started passing person after person with umbrellas, not only were the in the way, their umbrellas did not really match the terrain and made the branches of the trees smack us behind and get us more wet than we already were, although that didn´t matter anymore when an hour had passed and the rain was pouring down. The terrain was quite varied between rocks, mud, stairs of different kinds and a few times a bit of climbing (more times if you are short like me).
(The way there was a sight to be held as well!)
At Wairere falls it takes about 45 minutes to get to the look-out point and about 45-50 or more to get to the top of the falls. We decided quite early on that the top was the only way to go, we were there and did not want half of the experience, so as the rain kept going, we got more and more soaking wet, the jeans got heavy and the ground a muddy mess I started reflecting on the things listed above. As my legs were getting sore I had heated conversations with party girl Natalie in my head, telling her to never repeat this mistake again, who goes to a party the night before something like this?! I wasn´t gonna let that stop me though and I kept on walking, and man was it worth it! Because of the weather the view wasn´t quite what it should be but gorgeous never the less, but the most amazing feeling of all was that we made it all the way to the top! The adrenalin pumping and the feeling of being in an adventure came over me, oh how I love that feeling, when you experience new exciting thing and really feel into your bones that happiness of travelling and how every step of the way with visa, long flights and walking in the muddy rough terrain was worth it.
We decided to leave the lookout spot til the way down which I´m very happy we did. When seeing all that beauty and then knowing we had 1,5 hour to get down again in the still pouring rain…we needed the motivation. The way down was quite hard on the knees and in some spots it was very slippery. A lot of laughs and a few falls later we reached the look-out spot, such an amazing feeling to look up at the majestic waterfall and knowing we had just come from all the way up there, adventure feeling number 2 came over me, it was great! I think I even happy-screamed a bit…
A few selfies later and about 45 more minutes of walking we went dripping wet into the bus. It was crazy cold since I failed to bring extra clothes and even if I had my bag was just as wet inside as outside…
Even though this experience were quite challenging I liked the conditions in a way, just because it was a challenge… After rewarding myself with a pizza and warm clothes I slept like a baby all night long…