Journals from Semester Abroad-University of Waikato New Zealand
2013-08-06 A Stormy Day - Hike to Wairere Falls
Me and Anita at the top of the falls.
So last weekend, finally feeling back to normal, I was once again able to get off campus to see and experience some more of what NZ has to offer. After a couple times of tramping (hiking) with my Kiwi mates on Fridays, we decided to continue our weekly Friday walks and planned out another trip to a mountain nearby. (I don’t have classes on Fridays, so I’ve been taking advantage of my 3 day weekends!) This week we decided to head to Wairere Falls. The weather wasn’t supposed to be great but we thought waterfalls still look pretty no matter what the weather is, so we decided to brave the wind and rain and have an adventure. And an adventure is definitely what we had!
After receiving a package from home that morning with my much needed gloves, hand warmers (the Hot Hands kind that you shake to warm up - which they don’t have here, making it fun to show and share with my friends), and fleece pullover I was prepared for what my day would bring. We left around 8am on an hour or so long drive out to the trailhead. However, this hour long drive turned into more like an hour and a half as we struggled to find the correct roads to turn on, Anita who was driving ended up pulling off at almost every left turn there was only to find once again that it was the wrong road. Eventually we figured it out having missed the turn much earlier and had to turn around. But that wasn’t all that our morning drive had in store for us. Like I said, it was a bit stormy out and the wind was quite strong. We could feel it pushing our little car around as we drove around the country highways. After just commenting on how strong the wind was, we came up on some sort of crash on the side of the road where multiple police cars were pulled over. As we slowed down and passed we saw that a school bus had been blown off the road and was on its side on the grass just down a small embankment. (Several hours later, on our way back, we saw that they had pulled the bus out and found out online that everyone was okay, check out the news story here: http://www.stuff.co.nz/waikato-times/news/8995424/Kaimai-Buster-blows-over-school-bus). After that we questioned whether we really want to go out in this weather but quickly agreed we did.
We finally made it to the trailhead and began our walk to the falls. The wind wasn’t too bad once we were in the trees and it actually didn’t rain the whole time! We climbed up endless stairs and over roots and through some mud and finally made it to the lookout where we saw the beautiful view of the falls. But that wasn’t all! We continued up the trail another 45 minutes to make our way to the point that we were just looking at, the top of the falls. Talk about windy up there! But that was an incredible view! After piling on all our layers and taking way too many pictures, we decided to eat our lunch up there, nestled in some trees to block some of the wind. Afterwards, we headed back down being cautious not to slip on the slope or be hit by a possible falling tree that we heard creaking all around us. No worries though, we made it back down safe and sound!
But our adventure didn’t end there! We decided to warm ourselves up at the hot pools down the road in Te Aroha. The pool attendant thought we were crazy coming in that kind of weather, but it was really relaxing to sit in the outdoor hot pool with the rain falling on my face. Soaking in the warm water definitely felt good on my sore legs too. After that we stopped at one of the many little bakery’s that they have here in NZ to get some hot pies and then we headed back to Hamilton, only getting hit by one flying branch on the way.
All in all, it was a great day! Honestly, it was nice to experience a little bit of stormy weather as my experience here so far has been very mild for a winter. My mind has just been so confused as to what season it’s supposed to be right now. Knowing in my head that August should be summer, but not experiencing the warmth of summer at all or the extreme opposite that I’d expect for winter, I just am left thinking, maybe it’s spring already?