Today’s adventure began at 3.30am. I was up early to enjoy some incredible late summer weather, and bag myself a sunrise on the East coast and a sunset on the West coast – thanks to a little inspiration from Lost Kiwi.
After a breakfast of champions (cake and a mocha) I left a clear, chilly Waikato and headed over to Mount Maunganui in the Bay of Plenty. I reached the Mount at about 5.30am and got a park right outside the surf club – something you’ll only ever do at this time of day. As I headed past the surf club (currently being demolished to make way for a shiny new one) I was surprised to see many others heading the same way. It was still dark, and I could see a line of head torches bobbing in front of me. I took the beachside boardwalk past the surf club and the holiday park, to the steps. I was pleased to find that I was still able to jog up the steps and stone staircase. I headed up the slope towards the gate and turned to see the dark blue sky changing to pink in the East.
I took the left hand track up the steps – marvelling at how wide they are, and quietly wishing they’d made the Hakarimata steps like this! Speaking of which, having the Haks as my gym makes the Mount a pretty easy climb, and the 230ms up took no time at all. There were probably about 25 of us on the summit, and we chatted as we waited for the day to begin. The sun greeted us at 6.35am in spectacular fashion and rose from directly behind White Island volcano, in the ocean some 90kms distant. I basked in the sunlight for a while then made my way down, and to the Sidetrack cafe for a muffin and hot choc. Next stop was to my bestie’s for a cuppa and a catch-up on the goss before heading off.
On the way back from the Mount I detoured to the Waireri falls in the Kaimai Mamaku mountain range. I walked the 5km and 153m climb round trip in 1.5 hrs. From the car park the trail starts with a gentle elevation before launching into a steep mid-section leading up to some steps and a mid-level viewpoint. From there it continues in a steep, rocky, muddy and slippery fashion until the top. Once at the top I walked along the riverside to the wooden viewing platform ending at the falls, with spectacular views overlooking the entire Waikato. The wind washed spray from the waterfall below, back up & over me. At the top when the river is low it’s possible to cross to the other side to get some epic photos, but the river bed was pretty slippery so I didn’t attempt it this time. I made my way back down and passed lots of people on their way up.
The final part of my adventure later that day was to head to Raglan for the sunset. No trip to Raglan would be complete without magnificent fish & chips from the wharf, and after a hefty dinner I drove over to Wainui Reserve overlooking Ngarunui Beach. The sunset was just as amazing and as colourful as the sunrise had been, with just enough cloud to make it a little bit more special. I am such a lucky girl to have all of this on my doorstep – what a fab late summer day!
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