A Journey South: Nikau Falls

As you may recall from the last post, I made a trip down to the Waikato Region. I had done some driving around, visited Port Waikato, and then went to have dinner with my friends. But that morning I had another adventure in a place called Limestone Downs, 20km or so South of Port Waikato.

As you can see, Limestone Downs has quite a few sheep. I even captured a video of said sheep for your amusement:

I also got to meet the real-life shepherd who was (characteristically) herding those sheep! She was very nice, and had four dogs helping her (the little dachshund from the video was not one of them; I have no idea where he came from).

A bit further along the road is a little cafe and outpost. The friendly folks here also manage tours of the nearby Nikau Caves, though I didn’t take the tour that particular day. I did, however, eat lunch here. A little pricey, but good. And let’s be honest: where else are you going to get lunch in this area?

I do quite like eating lunch at a place where the view from the back porch is a casual masterpiece. And comparing the sky with the previous photos, you’ll probably note that I had my usual luck with overcast skies clearing up just in time for me to enjoy my hike!

At the cafe, they told me of a waterfall hike I could do and even gave me a little hand-drawn map! I intended to keep it and show it here, but I can barely hold on to actually important papers so I had basically no chance with something like that. The map was better than some of the official park maps I’ve seen here in New Zealand! Not that those maps set a very high bar, but we shall speak no more on the matter….

I have literally four different photos of this bridge, and I’m not sure why. I mean, it’s a fine bridge, but I don’t know why it caught my fancy so on that particular day.

You know, I never did find out the name of this river.

Alright, not quite stairs. Still like the photo, though.

The folks in the cafe were not very excited about the waterfall trail, possibly because they make their living selling guided tours of the caves and want people to do that instead. But it’s a really nice walk! The trail is admittedly not super well marked (at two different points I wound up walking down some land which wasn’t a trail at all — I guess this is why they have the map), but the cool thing about a trail that runs along a river is that you can only get so lost before you find the river and get your bearings again.

Behind that ramshackle barn is the road I drove in on. The Waikato District is so beautiful.

At one point the trail takes you through someone’s sheep pen. There’s a stile on either end and some actual sheep in the middle. I prefer forest and river to pasture land, but the rolling hills of the Limestone Downs are certainly easy on the eyes.

Yep, still following the river.

This little stable, or shack, or whatever it was has not weathered the elements well.

Then you round a corner and HEYO! Waterfall.

I like to refer to this sort of waterfall as a comb-over, since it’s looking a little thin and threadbare in places :)

It falls into a tiny pool before running along to become that respectable-size river.

I even did a bit more climbing and found this, which is probably not the exact source of the river but is pretty neat.

So that was my excursion into the Limestone Downs! That whole area has so much more to see and experience, but at least I got a little glimpse.

The Waikato Region was utterly enchanting, with its rustic beauty and scenic charms. Maybe put some tarmac down on that one road, but overall it’s got a good thing going. Not much in the way of civilization, certainly, but for some that’s desirable, or at least a reasonable tradeoff. But whether it’s a quick visit or a longer trek, I heartily recommend this Southerly stretch as worthy of any explorer’s time and attention.


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