December 18-19: Exploring McLaren Falls

Author: Mr A

Location: McLaren Falls, Tauranga, New Zealand

It was time to head for the hills. After a few days of indolent pottering around the coast, we packed up the camping gear and set off for an overnight trip up to a small park we had briefly visited once before, but in the poring rain.

We had booked sunshine and shine it did. A glorious day to be outside smelling that distinctive aroma of fresh grass that NZ has. The park is only a short drive from the city of Tauranga (Bay of Plenty on the North Island), so makes an easy getaway for families at weekends… which is why we chose a Tuesday!

A site of our own…
Lakeside views, a picnic table, gas BBQ and a private toilet…what more could we want?
Plenty of black swans here
Tuis enjoying the nectar

We had one of the three camping areas all to ourselves and soon had the little hike tent up, mattresses inflated, and a brew on. 

It was time to have a poke about. The plan was to have paddled up the lake to see the famous glow worms, but the howling wind put that idea to bed and we set off for a tramp, as they call it here.

…The Kiwis also call pens ‘pins’…but that’s another story. 

Following the lakeside walk
Hiking up the Sunrise Track
Foxgloves flowing in the shade, reminding us of English walks

Glorious views assailed our eyeballs from every direction. Catherine always says it looms like a child’s drawing of the countryside, with perfectly rounded hills and cows posing in just the right spots. 

Ridiculously green countryside
The view from Pine Tree Knoll Lookout

We spotted a brood of Canada geese goslings – clearly mum and dad hadn’t read the fauna manual for their breed which prescribes no more than 9 chicks. They had a long line of 17! They had clearly been busy little geese. 

Successful goose family

The wind continued and made cooking dinner on our little stove quite interesting. But we triumphed and Mrs A again managed to turn dinner into a sumptuous feast of chicken saté and fresh veggies with quinoa nestling in a bed of brown and black rice. Flipping lovely. 

One burner dinner is served!

It was soon time to snuggle down for the night. Remember the part about the mattresses being blown up? So now mine wasn’t and clearly had sprung a leak on one of my bikepacking trips and I was so dog tired I hadn’t noticed. Well I did certainly notice this night, let me tell you. Despite having more padding than I used to, it was a crap night’s sleep!

Wednesday: Ah well…a breakfast of beans and mushies livened me up and we packed away our camp and headed out to see the falls themselves. We couldnt help visualising our friend David, who grew up locally on a farm, poised on the rocks with his brothers all daring each other to jump. 

The picturesque falls
In a week’s time, these will be full of families playing!

A short drive back to Omokoroa and an afternoon granddad nap seemed appropriate.

…I know..

Even the visiting godwits thought it was a good time for a nap…!

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