After a week back at work, it’s time to get to some more of our holiday adventures! I’d been wanting to head out toward Wainuiomata (“Wainui”) to do some walks for a while, and we finally decided to give it a go a few days after Christmas. While Wainui isn’t that far, it’s out of the way and not really somewhere you end up unless you make a point to go there. The town itself doesn’t have the best reputation, but we were headed past it to the Rimutaka Forest Park to check out the Catchpool Valley and Orongorongo Track.
To give you an idea, the blue dot is where we live and the red pin is our destination over the hill. That’s about a 40-minute drive, with all the winding roads.
It was a really warm day for Wellington, so luckily most of the trail was shaded. The Orongorongo Track is about 5 km (3 miles) to the river and the same back, so 10 km in all. At the halfway point, we crossed this bridge.
Higgs had to be on a lead, since kiwi live in this area (the “Kiwi Zone”). Pretty cool that they’re out here, and while I doubt Higgs would know what to make of a kiwi, let alone attack one, we respect the rules when it comes to native wildlife.
Higgs did find some interesting things to sniff, and we wondered if he caught a whiff of a kiwi. They wouldn’t be around during the day, but I’m sure they cross the path at night, knowing how big their territories can be.
We noticed some incredible, ancient trees towering over the path.
It’s hard to make out the tree beneath all the epiphytes, but can’t you just picture the Fern Gully population residing here?
These giants have been here much longer than any single human, and it’s humbling to think of all they’ve weathered in their centuries of life.
As usual, my companions were waiting on me (patiently).
Near the river, there were more kiwi notices from DOC. Higgs looks like he has a mohawk from his tail’s position:
Finally, we caught a glimpse of the Orongorongo River below us!
This beautiful bridge arched over a stream feeding into the river.
Time for a dip!
We made our way down to the rocky riverbed. What an unbelievably beautiful spot! Endless forest stretched out in all directions, and it felt like we’d stepped back in time.
Let’s zoom on in that look of pure doggo bliss.
Yaaaas. Wish I’d brought my swimsuit.
Higgs was even feeling brave enough for an actual swim.
We couldn’t have asked for a better day.
There are DOC huts scattered throughout the Orongorongo Valley, so I’d love to come back and stay overnight sometime. Maybe we’d even be lucky enough to hear kiwi in the wild, calling in the dark.
The sandflies were out in full force, so Andy and Higgs made for the forest while I took a couple more shots.
On the walk back, we were mostly keen to just get back to some air conditioning, but it was beautiful nonetheless. We passed a lot of dogs and families, and Higgs got quite a few compliments.
Farewell for now, you magical valley! We’ll definitely be back.
Up next, our camping trip to Ōtaki Forks. 🙂