Whakamarama roadend to Wairere Falls Campsite

We try our best to use real checkout operators when we go to New World because we reckon employing actual people is a good thing but sometimes robots come in handy. As I passed the four pack of toilet paper and the packet of anti-diarrhea pills through the self checkout I thanked a god I don’t thank often for small mercies and a bit of privacy.

‘Do you want to bag them?’ Asked Fiona thoughtfully as we paid.

‘Nah,’ I replied bravely.

My physical suffering over the previous few days had been immense. Walking into the Kaimai seemed like the last thing I should be doing.

The other thing I shouldn’t have done that morning was eat one of the most amazing egg bennies I’d ever had…but it would’ve been rude to turn down the home-cooked masterpiece.
Aidan, our Tauranga host, chef and chauffeur dropped is off at the roadend at ten.

Cuzzie Aidan drops us off

Mus as we set off

We’d left Whirinaki six days earlier but the unexpected interlude had seemed a lot longer. Although we had been superbly looked after by Fiona’s relatives, we’d lost our way. As we’d waited for the second cyclone to hit we felt like continuing would be impossible. According to the TV news, armageddon seemed likely. At one stage I emailed a friend and told him we were giving up and going home. We were probably just tired and disappointed that we’d missed a whole section of our route.


…the entrance to the Ngamarama Track was a bit of a worry at first glance. It was pretty overgrown and a handmade sign welcomed and sent us into thick bush. We planned to take it up to join the North South Track that would take us north along the Kaimai Ridgeway.

For many years much of the Kaimai track network had been neglected. DoC even recommended that only people with strong ‘route finding abilities’ should attempt the North South Track.This sad state of affairs is now being turned around by the Kaimai Ridgeway Trust. Huge amounts of volunteer hours from regional tramping clubs, deerstalkers and many others have seen old tracks cleared and repaired.

Stream crossing

Water water everywhere

Fiona was pleasantly surprised by the state of the track she’d chosen for us. Although it was VERY wet underfoot it was well marked and clear. It undulated relatively gently and wasn’t at all tiring to walk over.

Kaimai regrowth…

It rained heavily on and off throughout the three and a half hours it took us to get to the junction so we got to test out our new ultralight, ultracheap and ultraflimsy 2 Dollar Shop Ponchos. They were a success.

Drinking from a stream in her $2 shop poncho…

At the junction we were excited to meet an actual DoC sign and surprised when the track got even better. There was less water but we got to cross several beautiful copper-coloured and quietly moving creeks.

An afternoon highlight was a small circle of Blue Meanie-like mushrooms.

Five and a half hours from the car park we arrived at the Wairere Falls junction as the last of the day’s raincloud moved on. 200 metres up the track we found the campsite clearing.

Worryingly, the first clearing we came to was under water but as we imagined spending an uncomfortable night perched on a grassy wet island we made our way into the dryer second clearing where we put up our new fly and old tent. We were in for a night of luxury tenting that involved being able to stand under shelter and store our stuff slightly away from our tent. There was even furniture…a log.

Wairere Falls

View from Waiwere Falls

Once we were set up we decided to check out the Wairere Falls. As we walked the twenty five minutes to where those copper-coloured streams drop spectacularly off the edge of the Kaimai, the sun set through the forest.

All set for the night…

It’s a big waterfall but is quite gentle. We sat in its mist as a warm yellow sun dropped the last rays of its day across the Waikato. We were back on the Spine of the Fish and the world hadn’t ended.

What’s more, as we tucked ourselves into our tent for the night, I still had all four rolls of toilet paper. With any luck I’d be making a generous donation at our next port of call.

Moral of the story? Be very careful when using Voltaren. It can have unfortunate side effects.