Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Whining at Wainui

In the remote Golden Bay region of the South Island a two-lane “highway,” #60, is the only thread to greater civilization. Rhys and I were on that road, circumnavigating the Abel Tasman National Park in search of the Wainui Falls. I’m a bit anxious because although usually good for stopping and taking in the sights I was trained from an early age to not let time get away from me, especially when it comes to making a scheduled service.

We’d already strayed once to view the well worth it “Pupu Springs” and now needed to get to Picton in time for the last hi-speed ferry across the Cook Strait to Wellington for the night. Rhys, though, is the tourist wanderer extraordinaire, quite happy to let adventure unfold at will on any road less traveled. The only thing on Abel Tasman Road around Ligar Bay is the remote village of Totaranui and what I hoped would be one spectacular set of falls.

Our hosts the previous night at the Garden Retreat had recommended the side-trip but warned us of the one hour hike from the main road (why is ANYTHING worth seeing always way an hour or more off the main road?). We started out from the car park across farmland before ducking thru a grove of trees and in to “the bush,” following the Wainui River, more like a decent creek, further upstream. We navigated some largish granite boulders and then came to a cold stop on the west bank about 15-20 feet above the running water. Strung across a 60-foot gorge was a bridge. A rope bridge. A “One-person-at-a-time” the sign says rope bridge.

I mean, please! A rope bridge? It moves!! Up, down, side to side, countering every foot step and hip sway, foiling any attempt to hold still! The first explorer had no means of getting across so WHAT was the motivation to keep going and find a way to cross the bloody river, good hearing??

Between fits of giggling, uber-chill Rhys snapped the only picture of me suffering this bridge like a skittish horse and, he says, “squealing like a little girl.” Oi.

Once across all worries of making the sailing to Wellington were summarily dismissed. We had reached the falls and they were text book, Bali Hai beautiful. Only a single 30 foot drop in to what seemed like an elevated collecting pool, it was the lush setting that made the entire experience. Under a blue sky and surrounded by deep forest green and lined with stark granite boulders with only the sound of the water. The only thing missing was the Swiss Family Robinson and a rope swing over the pool.

Hmm. A rope swing. I knew where there was some rope, too.

This was worth the long flight, the long drive, the long walk and the death march across that stinkin’ bridge. I chilled on a boulder and took it all in. Rhys, adventurous Rhys, however, decided to anoint himself by taking a plunge in to the ice-needle cold waters, hair and goose bumps standing up all over the man! Who squealed that time? Ahhh, revenge!

We missed our sailing by 10 minutes.

Gotta go!

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