I think it’s safe to say that the last few days in NZ have been our most eventful yet. Which I know isn’t that surprising since we’ve only been here a little over 2 weeks. Though I’m pretty sure we’ve had quite the once-in-a-lifetime-experience this week!
We started off our week by returning to Mount Maunganui and there was no way we weren’t going to make it to the top this time. We decided to ignore the rain and chose the longer, easier track. Which turned out to be a great choice. It had better views, less stairs, it wasn’t as steep and, -my favourite- less people (although that probably also had to do with the rain). Making it to the top was actually surprisingly ‘easy’ going this way.
For the sake of entertainment I should also mention that, on our way back we ran into a scruffy looking man with a grey beard and a bike helmet. He asked us where we were from and told us ‘he had been telling this to people from the Netherlands for over 30 years’. Apparently aliens will blow up the earth on the 27th of December this year, there will be another black president after Obama and there was also something about Pink Floyd. I felt like it was my duty to pass on this information to you guys. So there you go.
“THE ALIENS ARE COMING!”
The day after our Mt. Maunganui victory we wanted to go find the ‘Omanawa Falls’, nicknamed ‘Secret Falls’. They sure do their name justice because we drove back and forth on the same road for about 20 minutes and still couldn’t find them. Eventually, after asking some locals for directions, we found the track that leads to the falls. We were welcomed by signs that read ‘DANGER’ and ‘CLOSED FOR YOUR SAFETY’, but of course that didn’t stop us. The walk towards the lookout is an easy 15 minute walk, and when we arrived we were surprised by how blue the waterfall actually is. Probably the bluest we have ever seen. It has some real Jungle Book/Lost/Pirates of the Caribbean vibes going on, making it a very surreal experience.
Now comes the challenging part. I by challenging I mean C-H-A-L-L-E-N-G-I-N-G. There is no official way down to the falls, just a dodgy ‘path’ that must have been tracks from people who had previously climbed down there. We couldn’t really find a way to access this ‘track’ but after looking around for a while we ran in to a friendly German guy who was about our age. He told us a friend had explained to him to look for a locked steel door in the middle of some stairs. To get passed this door we had to climb up a steep rock wall that had a few small cracks you could put your feet in, after that we had to pull ourselves up by holding on to tree roots.
The climb down to the waterfall took us about 45 minutes to an hour, but to me it definitely felt like hours and hours and hours and hours. Maybe it’s because I’m still an inexperienced adventuress, but that climb was without doubt the scariest and most challenging experience of my life. The whole way down was mostly steep, and we had to hold on to branches, trees and tree roots the entire way. At some point I couldn’t reach a spot to put my foot so the only way for me to make it across was to place my muddy feet on Justins shoulders, so I could reach a branch and pull myself up.
To think we actually wore clothes that would look good in photos. HAH. Rookies. By the end of it I was completely covered in mud/sand, had sticks in my hair and a hole in my pants.
Despite the nightmare of accessing the falls, it doesn’t take away from how amazingly beautiful the falls are. Definitely the sickest I have ever seen in my life. I’m very happy we made it, and proud that I did it, but I don’t think I would do it again. People have gotten stuck there before (because of rain or tripping and breaking something), and the only way out then is by helicopter. So please be mindful of that if you ever decide to go there.
The next day we took the car up to Auckland, a trip that should take us about 2 hours (that is without traffic or roadworks). However, everyone that knows Auckland knows there’s álways traffic and álways roadworks, needless to say it took us over 3 hours to get there. We didn’t spend much time in the Auckland city centre, but we have plenty of time to go there again. After staying the night at Justin’s uncle, we hopped in the car for another roadtrip, to Piha Beach this time, which is about 40 minutes west of Auckland. The last time we were in NZ we visited Piha as well, and really enjoyed ourselves. It’s a challenging drive, with its steep roads and sharp turns, but also quite a scenic one. Piha is one of NZ’s most popular (surf) beaches, characterised by Lion Rock, right in the middle of the vast stretch of black sand.
Lunch at Piha Café
We didn’t climb all the way to the top of Lion Rock though, because as we got closer, we could hear a group of hippies chanting the Lion King theme (seriously?).
Besides the mountains, waterfalls and beaches we’ve already seen, I must say I’m really enjoying just driving around together. Even though it can get stressful at times, we’re never going to get views like this in the Netherlands.