After visiting Punakaiki, we drove about 15 minutes to Truman Tracks. We found ourselves hiking on a tree covered trail with little light breaking through and then the tracked opened to the coast.
Man, we never get sick of seeing the coast here in New Zealand.
We got to the beach about 30 minutes before sundown. To pass the time we tried out hand, or our bodies, at shadow art in the sand. Our successful heart:
Our intimidating poses:
Our attempt at the number 12:
Then the sun set, and it was the most beautiful thing we’ve ever seen. (It seems like we say that a lot, huh?)
About a month before we boarded a plane to New Zealand I was doing a little research on some things worth doing while we were there and I came across Harwood Hole. It’s New Zealand’s deepest vertical shaft and the trail takes you right to the opening. The turn off for the trail is located on the road that goes over Takaka Hill, but we missed the turn on the way up the mountain. I wanted to do this hike so bad that we turned around and backtracked 30 minutes to try to find the turn off. Well, we couldn’t find the turn so we headed back down the mountain to Takaka.
The next day on our way home we used the handy dandy map on our phone and found the turn off so we knew exactly where it was. We ended up behind a really slow car and drove for at least 30 minutes on a dirt/rock road to the trailhead–it should have only taken us 15 minutes to get there. It was cruel how slow the car in front of us was going and he wouldn’t let us pass him.
The scenery to the trailhead was nothing special. Actually it was the ugliest we had seen New Zealand–it was a little hilly but everything was brown and there were dead trees everywhere and lots of sheep.
When we got to the carpark there was a huge beech forest. Again we were faced with a new landscape we’d never encountered and we were still in New Zealand.
As we walked through the forest it seemed dark as the sun was setting fast. There were several instances where Scott and I found ourselves joking about “hiding the ring” and keeping an eye out for “orcs.” It was seriously as though we were in a clip from Lord of the Rings.
It wasn’t until we happened upon this magical looking pond that we were certain Lord of the Rings was filmed in this forest. And yes, we googled it and confirmed that the movie was in fact filmed in this very forest. (Soo cool!)
With the sun setting so quickly and Carter getting pretty antsy, we decided it would be in our best interest to head back to the car instead of finishing the 30 minute walk we still had ahead of us to get to Harwood Hole and then the 45 minute return walk. It was a hard decision to make since I had been wanting to visit this location for so long and we dedicated so much time looking for the trailhead and then actually getting to it.
We decided we’d save the entire Harwood Hole adventure for the next time we come to New Zealand. Besides, just being able to walk through the beech forest where Lord of the Rings was filmed was awesome enough!!
We went on this hike to Wainui Falls without any suggestion from anyone. We finished our morning in Totaranui earlier than we had planned and we had some time on our hands, so when we saw a sign for waterfalls we had to stop. And we’re sure glad we did!
Here’s me looking for a kiwi bird with my handmade binoculars.
We got to cross a crazy bridge (only 1 person could be on it at a time) on this trail and it was actually a little scary. It was very narrow and it swayed quite a bit as we walked so holding on to the cable as a hand rail was pretty much necessary. It was exciting though and definitely added to how awesome this hike was.
The falls themselves were big with heavy gushing water. The only way to get close to the falls was on wet rock so I stayed back with Carter and let Scott get as close as he could.
We drove for what felt like hours upon hours on the windiest roads to get to Toturanui late at night. We didn’t know exactly where we were parking, we just found an empty lot and called it good. Scott tried his hand at some night time shots. They turned out great!
We woke up as soon as we started to see the tiniest shred of light in the sky and moved the car a mere 50 meters to sit on the boat dock to watch the sunrise.
After watching the sunrise, we decided to explore the beach area. Scott loved this cove.
As we were walking along the beach we ran into this lovely couple! See the crystal-y looking stuff on the beach in the picture? Well, Aoife and Morgan stopped us to ask what it is. We had absolutely no idea haha so we all threw around our best guesses including ground up jellyfish, glass, and frost. We ended up just chatting with them for about an hour just talking about our shared love of traveling and adventures.
As we were leaving Toturanui we made great use of our sun roof. The weather was beautiful and the scenery of the beach as we climbed the mountain on windy roads was stunning. Apparently we were more concerned with taking pictures of ourselves than the scenery though.
Wharariki beach is by far the most amazing beach we’ve ever seen. Ever. We raced there as fast as we could on a dirt road to make it for the sunset only to find that there was a 20 min walk from the carpark to get to the beach. We loaded Carter in the baby carrier and took off.
I started running–well more like slow jogging–up the grassy hill where the trail was heading. Here’s Scott running to catch up with me.
We came upon a fence that was going right across our walking trail and instead of there being an opening or even a gate there were stairs that took you up and over the fence.
We were walking on the tall hills to get to the beach. This was, also by far, the most incredible walk to a beach we’ve ever been on. Every minute of the 20 minute walk was worth it. It was stunning.
Once we got to the beach our jaws hit the ground. It was the most incredible sight we’d ever seen.
It wasn’t the best sunset ever that night, but it was still beautiful and we’re glad we made it to the beach just in time to see it.