Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Home Again

For the first time all trip, we had no real time restraints on us. The goal was to be in Wellington by the end of the day but whether that came at 4 in the afternoon or midnight was of no consequence. That being the case, we had the luxury of sleeping in and lazing around camp until we felt like moving on.

When we did eventually polish off our liquor, clear our rubbish out and pack the car again, we drove off in the direction of Huka Falls, approximately 5 minutes up the road from the camp.

The Huka Falls are a series of waterfalls that drain Lake Taupo, the largest lake in New Zealand by surface area (616 square km), into the longest river in the country, the Waikato (425 km). The Falls thunder an immense volume of water through a narrow canyon approximately 15 metres in width before the river opens out to around 100 metres wide. The water from the Huka Falls at times flows at a volume of 220,000 litres per second which some loose internet pseudo research tells me would fill an Olympic swimming pool in 11 seconds. 

We arrived at the viewing area and ran into a German guy we'd met briefly at the camp ground who had apparently hitched a ride there for a look around. After a quick chat with him we wandered around and watched the foaming white water coming down from the falls and rampaging down under the bridge we were standing on.

Being a North Islander (albeit from the very south of the north) who has had his fair share of cross country road trips, I had visited the falls several times prior, the first time as a very small child. I always seem to end up on the same train of thought with the tremendous sight of the water rushing through and the overpowering sound of it in my ears. 

I always wonder first what it must have been like for the first Maori people coming down the Waikato in their waka to come across this spectacle. I wonder if the first people to come across it recognised the power of it as insurmountable or if there were attempts made to traverse it. Even the first British settlers must have been astonished by it as they floated their way down the Waikato, exploring the land. I'd hate to think what that volume and speed of rapid could do to the most robust of vessels let alone an old - time wooden craft. I imagine it'd go from boat to splinters in the space of a minute or so.

I think Beckett was also pretty taken with the sheer power of the water and the beautiful colouring of it between the clear blue of the water and the bright white of the foam as it struck the rocks around it. It was definitely a spot I wasn't going to miss out on sharing with him, an iconic feature of New Zealand geography at the meeting point between the two water giants Taupo and Waikato. It really is little wonder that the Maori have such great spiritual connection to these places when you witness the profound dominance over humanity that they exhibit.

We spent a good half hour or so at the falls before hitting the road back towards Wellington. We split the driving between us which made the trip a lot easier to do without copious amounts of rest time along the way.

Apart from a few gas station food stops which as you all know are a staple of every road trip, the drive home went smoothly with nothing particularly notable occurring. We had some great music, courtesy if Beckett's i - phone blasting through the sound system, a reliable and easy to drive vehicle courtesy of my mother (cheers Mum) and a fantastic set of scenery along the drive courtesy of New Zealand.

We arrived back at my place not too late into the evening, unpacked the car as much as we could be bothered and settled in for the night. We had 2 days at or disposal for me to finish showing off Wellington and so I had the usual suspects scheduled (cable car, te papa,waterfront area, cuba street shopping, drinking on courtenay place) with the weather being the deciding factor in which ones we did at which time.

In the next post I'll talk about our last couple of days in Wellington and the remainder of our shenanigans before I eventually agreed to let Beckett go back to Wisconsin.

Photo by Matt Power on Unsplash

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