Whangarei, Pt. 2: Piroa Falls

Welcome back! If you’re just joining us, this post is in the middle of my road trip up to Whangarei. On the way up, I realized I would pass by the Waipu Gorge scenic reserve. I added it to my itinerary.

When I got to the turn, I immediately noticed was that the road was…not so great. It started off as a gravel road, but after a couple of kilometers the gravel kinda…ran out, and it was just mostly a dirt road.

(Side story: in 2010, in the US, some friends invited me on a camping trip riiiight after I bought a new car. Like, about 100 miles on the odometer. I ended up being one of the drivers, and of course they led me onto a dirty gravel road with some of the worst washboarding I’ve ever driven over. So I am very familiar with taking nice cars on terrible roads, but this was still a doozy.)

It doesn’t help that the falls are not brilliantly marked, so I drove by them on the first pass. I went about 3km too far before I realized I needed to turn around. The road was pretty narrow with not many turnoffs, so I had to avail myself of a sheep pasture to make the turn. My noble steed — not at all designed to be tramping around in the mud — did admirably.

Not a lot of parking, either. But I’m not complaining; the more remote the site, the more special it is when I feel like I’m one of a privileged few who have seen it!

The track gets pretty steep well-nigh immediately, but it’s not that long. Kudos to the Maungaturoto Rotary Club for keeping this trail well-maintained.

After losing some altitude, we find a rather murky river. Not quite the unsettling brown of the Brisbane River, but not exactly a clear, bubbling brook either.

You wanna see the falls? You gotta cross the bridge. Concrete is…an interesting choice of material.

The thoughts going through my head at this point: so worth it. What fantastic falls!

And here’s a shot in the other direction, showing the basin the falls pour into. Maybe if I had brought my togs (and if it wasn’t still pretty chilly out) I would have taken a dip!

There’s also this cool picnic area! Weirdly out of focus though. The Rotary Club should get on that.

And what journey would be complete without some stairs?

So that’s Piroa Falls! A nice little pause in a trip North. Just make sure before you go that your car can handle the journey!

I took a photo of the hood of my car after I got off the rubbish roads. After getting back to Auckland it’s going to need some washing.

Next time we’re going to actually make it all the way to Whangarei!


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