359 Days on the Road
Update: Labyrinth Woodworks has now changed location.
Today is all about the hidden gems and stumble upons! We didn’t have much of a plan this morning for our activity on Day 361 of 365 Days: 365 Activities, which is kinda ridiculous on our part. After 361 days on the road, you would have thought we were planning machines! Nevertheless, the things we discover today just go to show that going with the flow can lead you to some pretty magical places (even if it initially feels like we’re going to a dodgy place). So lets begin!
Finding a mystery waterfall
After a morning of work, we quickly google some things to do in Hokianga to find us back on our own website – oh yeahhhh – this page specifically. There are utterances of a waterfall nearby Omapere down Waiotemarama Gorge Road, and that’s all we have. We jump in the car and follow this lead!
Where the hell are we going?
The drive out of Omapere and Hokianga proves to be a stunning one as we wind our way up a hill to some awesome views overlooking the Hokianga Harbour backed with sand dunes. Continuing on, we pass farmland until we reach Waiotemarama Gorge Road… which turns out to be a rough gravel road with the first house suspiciously surrounded by rusty-looking cars… Where the hell are we going? Things don’t get any better as we pass the creepiest-looking church and continue down the gnarliest winding road.
After joking about being kidnapped or whatever, we finally see some Department of Conservation signs for the waterfall and forest walks! Phew! So this place does exist!
Delving into the wildly dense forest
We are greeted by the sound of silvereyes and fantails as we get out of the car, but the sound is quickly replaced by rushing water as we make our way along the Waiotemarama Loop Track. We are high above a cascading stream only seen in glimpses between the incredibly dense and beautiful native forest. Nikau palm trees, hanging vines, ferns and various hard wood trees. On the opposite of the stream, we can see stands of kauri trees, the largest type of trees found in New Zealand. The forest floor is just as varied with hundreds of different mosses covering every surface they can with their vibrancy! We can’t believe we have walked into a place as beautiful as this when a moment ago, we thought we were driving to the dodgiest place ever.
Stream hopping with a broken arm
What tops off a beautiful walk more than a waterfall? Only about 15 minutes down the track, we hear the increasingly loud roaring of the falls. We walk down some concrete steps which lead straight into the stream below. What? We can’t even see the waterfall without crossing the stream! With Robin’s broken arm, it proves to be a bit of a mission of passing cameras and tripods across the stream, but with one last giant leap, we make it across with only minimal splashing in our shoes!
This is definitely not a bad-looking forest!
The marvellous Waiotemarama Waterfall!
The scramble was worth it because now we are facing a three-tiered waterfall tumbling into pools of the clearest water! The canyon and forest rise high above us now. This place is stunning!
We take some obligatory photos of and with the waterfall, scrambling further up the stream to get some better shots, and revel in it’s beauty. What else is there to do at a waterfall? Now, we head back. Robin crosses the stream first, shouting and jumping about when he reaches the other side.
Is that a giant snail?!
“I’ve found the carnivorous snail!” he shouts back at Laura, then followed by a: “Ohhhh noooo”. It turns out that the kauri snail shell is empty, but it’s pretty impressive to see the size. These snails, that are carnivorous and cannibalistic, can have shells up to 79mm in diametre. This one isn’t that big, but it’s close!
Do a u-turn!
Back at the start of the trail, he hit the gravel road once again, but something takes Robin’s attention.
“Do a u-turn!” Robin demands in the middle of this narrow gorge road… Yeah, right! But Laura can keep the sass because we do manage to find a place to turn around and check out if Robin saw what he really saw.
Labyrinth Woodworks: Robin is in heaven
Sure enough, there is a driveway with a giant elephant on display and a welcoming sign for the “Labyrinth Woodworks”. We have no idea what this place is, but it says it’s open so we go inside to check it out.
We are greeted by a lady called Sue who just happens to own a freakin’ puzzle museum in the middle on nowhere?! Wow! The shop is packed with puzzles, games, mind-teasers and more! This, right here, is Robin’s heaven. Robin is a sucker for games and puzzles – it’s an easy go-to for Christmas and birthday gift ideas, as you saw earlier last year. Not only does Sue have an amazing selection of games and puzzles, but her husband actually invents them! She shows us the brain-teasers and mind-bogglers for us to try and figure out, telling us stories of all the puzzle inventors they have met around the world. These two are the real deal, having puzzles in international competitions and being invited to International Puzzle Parties. And who would have thought we would have met this awesome lady down the unsuspecting Waiotemarama Gorge Road! We will never judge these scary-looking roads again!
Puzzling and gaming all the way into the evening
After feeding the peacock, looking at the grand puzzle collections on display in the museum, and, of course, playing with a few puzzles ourselves, we finally make our way back to our accommodation in Omapere.
Running with the theme of today, we relax and play some card games – one we like so much that we actually wrote an article on it: The Card Game Every Backpacker Should Play in Their Hostel. It’s a good way to end a day full of surprises!
Gotta get those waterfall pics!
Have you read yesterday’s post about horse trekking on Ninety Mile Beach? How about these articles?
- Hokianga – Guide for Backpackers
- 10 Reasons to Stop in Hokianga
- 12 Most Wonderful Waterfalls in New Zealand
See you tomorrow!