After spending a wonderful ten days in Auckland with relatives, we have finally flown the nest. It was difficult leaving, my relatives are incredibly generous, really witty and funny, and just a joy to be around and to talk with. I am already looking forward to visiting them again during my time here!
Anyway, off we drove to Ramarama with a detour through Piha (and when I say detour, I mean we went the complete opposite direction of where we were needing to end up. But that was ok, we had time to kill).
Piha is a beach village nestled in the cliffs overlooking the Tasman Sea and it is in the Waitakere Regional Nature Preserve. We rather arbitrarily chose to go here by looking through a drawer of maps and choosing what was nearish. Oh, and the promise of a waterfall! The drive from Auckland took us through the lush mountains of the Waitakere area. The windy, narrow roads and the encroaching vegetation strongly reminded me of the drive from Kutaisi to Batumi in Georgia. Eek! Thankfully, the drive there was not nearly as harrowing as in Georgia!
We pulled off to take a peek at a stunning view of white tipped waves crashing on black sand and black stone. Beautiful. But first, the waterfall. We carried on to the trail head fro Knutzen Trail. This trail would take us to the waterfall called Kitekite. The area used to be a logging area and Kitekite waterfall was meant to carry logs from the top of the cliff to the bottom. This system was only used once. The end result- splinters and bits of what had once been logs. Well done. They clearly hadn’t thought that one through. The falls are a sheer drop of 40meters…that’s really tall for all you imperial users (after all this time, I still can’t convert between the types of measurements).
Entering the trail was for me, like stepping back to the Jurassic period or before (I am not a paleontologist). I expected a velociraptor to come screaming around the corner at any moment. Ferns and palms and native kauri trees everywhere! The trail followed the stream that stems from the falls. It was rather small and unassuming, but the water had a white tint and the mossy rocks and bright green lichen made the scene very fey.
As we steadily climbed uphill, the roar of the falls became louder and louder. The first view of the falls was framed by palm fronds. We were sharing the view with a two couples. One couple had two little house dogs, probably bichon frise. The little yappy types. One was off leash and was not happy with all of the noise and smells. The woman of the couple was shouting at the dog to come. The dog was not coming. Then she was shouting at the other couple to bring her dog to her…I was getting fed up with this and eventually grab the offending animal and handed it back to the screeching woman. As she thanked us, she put the dog on the ground and continued to walk. The dog not following. There were many things that I wanted to do and say, but I shook my head instead and ignored the blatant stupidity in front of me. (After another ten- fifteen minutes of this little dog getting underfoot and stopping anyone from getting anywhere, she put him on a lead.)
At the base of the falls was a small pool that needed to be crossed to get to the trail. I felt extra adventuresome tying my boots together and throwing them over my shoulder as I rolled my pants to ford the river. The water was cold and flowing swiftly and the threat of slipping and being pulled downstream was real..or that is how I saw it in my minds eye! In actuality, it was a fairly easy step from one rock to the shallow stream bed and a few steps more found my feet drying on the bank.
In this picturesque swimming hole we summited a few large boulders and explored little, frothy pools. The rest of the hike was across the stream from the trail that took us to the falls. There were a few steep steps to “leprechaun trot” down ( hold up my jeans and high knee it down the stairs in a fairly ridiculous s manner. I found it easier on my knees than just trudging down the steps). At the bottom the stream needed to be crossed again to meet up with the original trail. There was no bridge, but conveniently placed rocks. It was a fun hop from stone to stone.
All in all, it wasn’t a strenuous excursion, but it was beautiful and my first real step into the Kiwi wild. We hopped back in our new-to-us Mazda Familia (dubbed Arlene by my relatives) and headed to the beach for a quick stroll before heading to Ramarama.