The New Zealand diaries:of walking,waterfalls and Waikareiti Lake (29/12/2015)



As far as writing spots go, this one is pretty spectacular: a crystal clear lake spread out before me,  I am happily settled here in the sand (well, a sort of sand made up of mushy moist leaves and water which will probably give me a strangely colour bum by the end of my little writing session….alas, there is worse in life…..), following a swim in the beautiful turquoise water of Lake Waikareiti which means “lake of rippling waters” -and I can see, as I sit here, that the name is fitting. I have never waded in a lake with so many branches and leaves in it, but this testifies to its  uniqueness, as it is framed by tropical rain forest which extends literally up to the water’s edge.  It is breath-taking and my photos do not really do justice to the beauty of this spot, which I have reached after a 1 hour hike through a mix rainforest setting shaped by a mix of Rimu trees and red and silver beech and ascending from 200m to 500m above sea level. The lake was formed by a massive landslide 18,000 years ago and has mini-islands in the middle of it. One of them, Rahui Island, has its own lake in it, turning it into a unique “lake-on-an-island-in-a-lake”. I cannot testify to this as you can only reach it by boat.


I can hear distant bird song and am engulfed by buzzing from bees (I assume) and flies, inhabitants of the bushes behind me. The setting would be sublimely tranquil were it not for a few  chatty people around. It is prime holiday season and even here in Te Urewere National Park, that makes for a fairly high number of tourists (mostly kiwis). Right now, I am overhearing a conversation by two ladies standing and chatting in the lake about toilet roll getting stuck in a door….


That said, even with that, what a difference between this setting here in Te Uwerera National Park (NZ’s forth largest national park and the biggest tract of untouched native forest remaining on the North Island )and Mount Maunganui and Whakatane where I was before. In one day, I went from what felt like the Cote d’Azur of the NZ North Island to a total wilderness experience. The drive here was absolutely incredible…..after a while the road turned into a gravel road, winding its way up and down mountains through beautiful forest scenery, intercepted by bridges over pretty brooks and rivers, the odd horse or cow ( the latter usually found close to the hamlets en route populated by small farm houses) and I even saw a small animal which looked like a cross between a mouse, a weasel and a squirrel….I must find out what it was. Due to the bendiness of the road and the gravel, I had to take the drive very slowly and take some breaks (long live camper-vans with tea making facilities) and arrived late and exhausted but the drive really was well worth it. At the end of the most tiring, worst bit of road I was rewarded by the most beautiful lake and waterfall views.Again, photos do not do the scenes justice-they made me speak out loud to myself and thank God for the beauty of His creation.


This morning I also explored other nearby waterfalls on 3 short walks:the Aniwaniwa Waterfalls (aniwaniwa apparently means “rainbow”)  and the Papakorito Falls. All spectacular -at the Papakarito Falls each drop of water looked like a tiny crystal ……again, the photos cannot capture this.


I was also treated to more sightings of a kind of yellowy and hairy firn which in the bright sunshine or at the end of the day, can look as if it is made up of fine golden hairs. I have seen some spectacular flora here…..each setting made unique by the way the light shines through leaves and trees. So many hidden gems amidst the “main sights” which I have come to see!


The campsite I am at is lovely, just on the shores of Lake Waikaremoana and surrounded by trees.When it is quiet, and in the early morning (courtesy of a weak bladder and alarge glass of water before bed-timeI was treated to an early morning wander to the toilet block),  you can hear birds sing beautifully…..unknown sounds which I cannot yet identify but hope to be able to match with a bird with the help of a little bird book purchased today.


Well, it is time to wander back to the camp site for a nice shower and meal before another short walk in time for sunset over Lake Waikaremoana and sightings of the native Tawa tree. What a treats it all is…..I am sure tonight I will sleep like a log.