More Piha

This place is in my head, and I am resolved to return to New Zealand someday. We leave for Indonesia in about 36 hours, which I am very excited about, but five weeks in NZ (and four days in Piha) isn’t nearly enough. These have been a few beautiful days, though, perfect notes to end this leg of our trip.

Yesterday, I dragged Rhys out for another walk (he was wary that I wanted to go back to the beach, at which I can sit for hours, much to his dismay. I tell him he needs to learn to appreciate beauty better. He doesn’t idle well). We went down the road the opposite direction, into the rainforest. Yep, NZ has a rainforest. Piha is situated just past the Waitakere Ranges, which is the greenest, wettest place I have ever beheld. (Is that a word? It should be if it isn’t.) I wanted to do the Kitekite Falls walk, which is an “easy” walk (Kiwis have an odd sense of difficulty, but their “easy” makes me gag at what their “extremely challenging” would be – a track of hot coals while being chased by wolves spitting scorpions at you? I don’t want to know). It was easier than Huka Falls, for certain, with only a fifteen minute steep incline or so. The end result was more than worth it:

Absolutely breathtaking. Where Huka Falls excelled in water volume, Kitekite makes up for it in complexity; there are falls within falls, areas where the top rock juts out farther than the next few levels, so you get waterfalls behind the front cascading water, and thousands of patterns of water on rock. I love waterfalls, and this may be the most impressive one I’ve seen yet, in person. They all have their beauty, their own personality.

While the falls are at the very end of the Kitekite trail (one of a whole spiderweb of trails in the range), I don’t want to sell the walk itself short. The forest is thick and lush (I’ll say it again – LUSH). Giant kauri trees, tall elegant ferns and palms, and sturdy tea trees create an interwoven canopy above your head that is thick enough in most places to keep the all-too-common rain or mist off of you. There is an old kauri stump at the trailhead large enough to walk into (that’s me crouching in it to the left). Some areas of the walk are muddy and wet, with the plants encroaching on you, while other areas (especially toward the top) feature a trail that’s barely wide enough for one foot next to cliffs going up and going down.

The sound of the stream and mini-falls serenade you while you walk. The walk itself is inspiring, but the falls at the end of it would make even a boring trek worthwhile.

This morning we dragged ourselves out of bed early (!!) in order to catch low tide at South Piha, so we could walk “the Gap.” It’s not an easy stroll, although we had heard it described that, and involved a considerable amount of rock-hopping to get past Camel Rock. Still, it was fun – I haven’t been rock-hopping since Shikoku. After getting on the beach (there is a whole other section of beach only accessible by scrambling over the fallen, clam-and-barnacle-covered boulders. Here you can see the Keyhole (pictured), the Gap (an area where the waves crash through HUGE rocks and create a little, fairly-serene swimming hole called the “Ochre Pool”), and if you disregard the “No Trespassing” sign to go a little further, you’ll find the Blowhole (an impressive cave-y keyhole structure that, at very high tides, blows water through a tiny hole in the very top). Awesome, adventurous walk.

Tomorrow is our last full day in this gorgeous, underrated country – this time around. I will be back to revisit my favorite places and check out the South Island – who wants to go with me? 🙂

About rhysfunk

Rhys Martin was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1981. In 2009, he sold everything he owned and left the country, living out of a backpack for ten months. He discovered a passion for photography while traveling throughout Southeast Asia and Europe. After returning home, he looked at his home town and Oklahoma heritage with fresh eyes. When he began to explore his home state, Rhys turned his attention to historic Route 66. As he became familiar with the iconic highway, he began to truly appreciate Oklahoma’s place along the Mother Road. He has traveled all 2,400 miles of Route 66, from Chicago to Los Angeles. He has also driven many miles on rural Oklahoma highways to explore the fading Main Streets of our small towns. Rhys has a desire to find and share the unique qualities of the Sooner State with the rest of the world. Cloudless Lens Photography has been featured in several publications including This Land, Route 66 Magazine, Nimrod Journal, Inbound Asia Magazine, The Oklahoman, and the Tulsa World. Rhys loves to connect with people and share his experiences; ask him about enjoyable day trips from Tulsa, locations along Route 66, and good diners or burger joints along the way.
This entry was posted in New Zealand, Old Travelogue, Written by Indi. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to More Piha

  1. julia says:

    Hi Indi, I live in Piha and I have been interested reading your Piha comments. You write so well and have certainly captured the essence of this little haven beautifully, especially the walk to the falls. Piha will stay "under your skin" that is for sure, and I have no doubt you will return one day. Happy travels and be safe.Julia. http://www.pihabeach.co.nz

  2. Indi says:

    Hi Julia! Thank you for the lovely comment – I can't wait to come back someday, and I hope to time our next visit in the summer to catch the surf vibe. 🙂 I mentioned your comment to Denise Stanley, who we are staying with, and she said to say hi to Bobbie!

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