Our adventure in the rain at the Otorohanga Kiwi House left me with a cold, and after days of being stuck at home with very bi-polar weather we were both becoming a little stirr-crazy and eager to go exploring again. Even the concrete coloured clouds and threat of rain were no deterrent as we headed off towards the West Coast of the Waikato and the small little surf town of Raglan.
Past beautiful countryside with rolling green hills speckled with cattle, we followed the windy tight roads, up and down, twisting and turning, giving our little Honda a thorough workout. Bright pink wildflowers smattered the roadside cheering up the weathers threatening melancholy. Before we knew it we had arrived at the small seaside village of Raglan. Renowned for being a surfing mecca and with a population of less than 3000 people, Raglan attracts people far and wide for its laid back surfy-culture, and is a popular retreat for Aucklanders wishing to escape the big city.
The main street was lined with craft shops showcasing the amazing talents of local artists, surf shops, and cafe’s. Antique shops and vintage clothing stores fragranced with the smell of burning incense, combined with the yoga / horse-trekking retreats give the village a fun hippy vibe. I, at least, felt quite at home. Places, however, tend to shine more brightly when the weather is cooperating, and so, maybe it was the grey skies, murky water, and chilly breeze that made what otherwise might have been a beautiful village and sea inlet, seem a little haunted and forlorn. Even the Pohutukawa trees, red flowers in bloom, seemed a little gnarly as if they’d been fighting off invisible foes. On a warmer and sunnier day I’m sure Raglan would have seemed more embracing.
After exploring a few of the treasure troves lining the main street, and enjoying a wonderful Indian lunch from a small cafe called Namaste, we jumped in our car to explore some of the surfing beaches Raglan is famous for. Despite the weather it seemed almost everyone had the same idea, and finding parking on the narrow twisting roads leading down to the beaches proved to be a problem. Instead we found our way down to a coast littered with black volcanic rock rock-pools. Not ideal for swimming or surfing, it was pleasant enough for us to explore the wildlife hiding in the pools, while locals in the distance collected shellfish off the rocks for dinner.
There was time enough in the day for us to explore a well-known waterfall in the area. 20kms from Raglan, traversing more windy hilly roads, we arrived at the walkway to the Bridal Veil Falls, also known as Wairenga Falls. Almost immediately we found ourselves on the upper viewing platform of the falls; a spectacular gushing wall of water, falling over a cliff face composed of volcanic rock. Although an amazing lookout not only at the waterfall but also at the surrounding native bush, I was reminded again of Martin’s resistance towards heights when I was handed the camera to take the shots. We continued downward through the bush to a mid-way platform allowing for another viewing of the waterfall, then continued again, down, down, down to the lower platform. 260 odd steps between the mid-way and lower platform. Walking back up was killer, yet totally worth the small bit of exercise for an amazing glimpse of the power and beauty of nature.