We drove from Kaeo to Waipapa, and had trouble finding the road to Rainbow Falls, our adventure for the day. Once again got directions from a friendly Kiwi (we stopped about 20 meters before the turn we needed) and headed on our way. Turned on Waipapa Road, found Rainbow Falls Road, and hiked in.
Rainbow Falls is actually a diversion of the Kerikeri River (which feeds into the Kerikeri Inlet, near the town of Kerikeri) – the river was diverted to create hydroelectric power back in 1930, or at least the system was completed in 1930. The resulting waterfall is amazing – the water comes slowly trickling down river, builds up behind a concrete dam or weir, rushes over that and onto boulders, and then comes cascading down about 25-30 meters to crash on the boulders and in the pool below – and the waterfall itself is about 15-20 meters wide!!! VERY impressive waterfall, throwing mist into the air (creating it’s own rainbow on sunny days, hence the name) and creating a continuous thunderous noise. The path leads to scenic overlooks along the waterfall’s path, both above and below the actual falls, so it really provided a great adventure for the afternoon. We walked/hiked up and down a bit (the hike down to the pool is steep, windy, and without railing, making it a major hike back up), marveling at the beauty and power of nature. Well, human-enhanced nature at this site, but still gorgeous. (On a sunny warm day, people jump into the pool below the falls and climb into the huge cave behind the falling curtain of water – this was a cold and rainy day, and so we skipped that part of the experience.)
We debated spending the night camping in the waterfall car park (there are kiwis, the birds, that run around there – although there might also be Kiwis, the people, so we skipped that). We ended up driving into the neighboring town of Kerikeri, which seems to have a number of nice cafés, restaurants, art galleries, studios, and such. We wandered around a bit and found a wonderful abstract fountain in the middle of a park – I’m not sure what the stones represent, but the sea shells were fairly obvious.
So we’re trying freedom camping in town, in a public parking lot, and we’ll see how that goes. It’s a small town, and we think we’re in a fairly quiet (and well-lit) area – I’ll report back if we get chased out by the cops.
Nov. 22, 2012
No, we didn't get chased out by the cops. We slept soundly, without interruption, until someone with a leaf blower came out to clear the parking lot at about 6:30 AM.
You may have heard that Mt. Tongariro erupted yesterday – we’re no where near it, we’re safe, things are fine. Actually, it would have been cool to see that – a live volcanic eruption – apparently it blew ash and rock high into the sky. It was late afternoon, when most hikers were headed down, but some hikers were rescued from certain trail crossings. At any rate, we haven’t seen it, we’re still buried in cloud cover here on the northern part of the Northland. Worry about us floating away, but don’t worry about us in the volcano.