The New Zealand Walks for Wimps series provides essential information about short, relatively easy hikes around New Zealand. For today’s walk I am joined by two blogger friends for a very slow walk in the Coromandel Peninsula‘s Waiau Falls and Kauri Grove. Click on the map markers and links on the right for more great easy NZ walks!
Nearest town: Coromandel Town
Type of track: there and back, with a small loop at the end of the kauri track
Official distance: 500m
Official time: 30 mins
Jenny’s time: about 3 hours
Tips: The tracks are about 1km apart along the 309 road outside of Coromandel town. The Kauri Grove has a small parking area across the road, and the waterfall has a small pullout nearby.
For most people, the Waiau Falls and Kauri Grove walks would be a quick pit stop on their way over the 309 road, the winding, mostly gravel route that twists its way over the ridge of the Coromandel Peninsula. Perhaps they’d be on their way to Hot Water Beach or Cathedral Cove or Whitianga, but for me and my friends they were more than a stop along the way; they were a destination.
My friends Jiyeon (of Runaway Juno) and Stephen (of Bohemian Traveler) had taken advantage of being in New Zealand to come visit me while I was housesitting on the Coromandel Peninsula. Being rather of the explorer, outdoorsy types, we took excursions all over the place during the week they were with me.
The thing about traveling with other bloggers or photographers is that everything is slow. And not just Jenny slow, but I mean really, really slow. Like a 20-minute-walk-takes-an-hour-and-forty-minutes slow. But life’s not about rushing, right? Especially not when you’re in lush green New Zealand kauri forest.
We meandered along the path, stopping right near the start when I spotted a wood pigeon sitting in a nearby tree. I was quivering with excitement because never, ever in all my wood pigeon sightings had I been so close to one, and never had it been so unconcerned by my presence.
My friends took a few photos, marveled at how pretty it was, and moved on. I lingered, taking more and more photos of it until finally it had eaten all the berries it was occupied with and flew away.
Later, back at home, Jiyeon looked up at me from her computer and said, “Hey, that bird we saw, that was really special wasn’t it?” Yes, yes it was.
But it was not just the bird. We’d come for the trees! Kauris are the kings of the Northern NZ forest, with trunks several metres in diameter on trees sometimes more than 1000 years old.
At one time most of the Coromandel Peninsula was covered in giant kauri trees, but when the Europeans came instead of seeing beautiful nature in these huge, straight trees, they saw timber and dollar signs and logged them almost into extinction. Now there are just isolated stands of Kauri trees, mainly on the Coromandel Peninsula and Northland.
We spent ages at the kauri grove, taking pictures of the enormous trees from every possible angle, posing for each other while looking at the trees, and zooming in on the forest surrounding the trees.
We dawdled along the loop walk, stopping at the Siamese kauri trees, which in fact have nothing to do with Thailand but are actually joined at the base and look like an upside down pair of legs.
We admired the little stream running next to the path, and lingered to take pictures of many of the funky plants lining the path.
We made sure that upon both arriving and leaving we cleaned our shoes carefully with the disinfectant provided to prevent kauri dieback disease. The last thing these precious trees need is to be infected by some careless tourists.
And then when we were finally done with the trees, we went to Waiau Falls. And we hung around there for another hour, photographing the waterfall from every possible angle, as well as the tiny mushrooms and the bright green vines clinging to the trees.
Waiau Falls is a popular swimming hole, with trails both upstream and down so you can find the perfect spot. Unfortunately we were there in May, which meant that although there was a wonderful lack of people, it was also much too cold to think about swimming!
So what if we spent half a day on walks that should have taken less than an hour? Time spent with good friends in the fresh air and beautiful New Zealand forests makes it all worth it. And we got some good photos, don’t you think?