Waterfalls are great. There’s just something about so much water…well…falling. Taylor, Lukas, and I saddled up and headed out to Fairy Falls in the Waitakeres to get some photos.
When it comes to hiking the Fairy Falls, you can either park on Scenic Dr and hike down to the bottom, up to Mountain Road, and take the loop back to the carpark via Old Coach Rd, or you can park on Mountain Road and take the clockwise loop, walking up from the bottom of the falls. I personally voted for the Mountain Road start, but I got outvoted.
(The only main difference is that parking on Mountain Road means that you’re going downhill between Scenic Drive and the Mountain Road carpark leading to a nice down-up-down pattern, while parking on Scenic Drive means that your initial hike will be all downhill and then you’ll be pulling uphill all the way back. It’s basically the same amount of uphill and downhill either way though.)
The Fairy Falls track is in excellent condition; in fact, most of the way it’s boardwalk. Fairy Falls are a staged fall, and the boardwalk likewise alternates between stairs and landings.
Don’t get so caught up in the falls that you miss the forest, which features some nice and fairly tall kauri trees.
It’s not too much of a walk before the top of the falls’ first stage.
After each stage there’s a little pool before the next, providing nice photo ops.
I should note that the water here is fantastically clear.
Going down a couple of levels further, we reach a spot where you can sort of climb back up to get some good shots. It’s actually easy enough that I did so too, though not quite so confidently as Taylor and Lukas.
Climbing up is the best way to get a shot of this stage of the falls, which doesn’t have its own landing on the boardwalk.
I would imagine after a heavy rain the falls would be even more impressive, but as they are they’re still pretty cool.
Each stage is just a bit different than the one before.
Which brings us here; the top of the lower falls.
The falls end with the most precipitous drop of them all, finishing in a large pool before becoming a river and flowing on.
And here we are at the bottom! Quite picturesque, if perhaps not a raging torrent on this clear Fall day.
We stopped here for some photographic shenanigans.
This is the short of shot we were messing about with; a long exposure that makes the water look like a sheet of silk running down the rocks. This is the sort of waterfall shot photonerds love to get.
Unsurprisingly, then, despite my lack of tripod I too monkeyed around with the camera for a bit to get some long exposures.
Eventually, though, we did move on. As you can see, the trail crosses the river at this point. The lack of bridge is the indication that the nice, pleasant boardwalk is now done. Enjoy your dirt trail.
(If you would rather be boring, you can of course walk back up the boardwalk rather than hiking the loop. But where’s the fun in that?)
The crossing is not difficult, and once again Taylor’s Vibram shoes proved quite handy.
Since we were already in a photography mood, I took a macro shot of this little mushroom we found. The macro lenses (especially the 10x, which I was using here) give a significant depth-of-field effect; you can see focus just drop right off on the peripheral.
I was a little hard on the trail conditions earlier; there are some bridged crossings even on this section of the trail.
And though you can expect to go up quite a bit, at least the steepest bits have some decent stairs rather than a slip-n-slide.
Go up far enough and…hey! There’s Auckland!
This far West it’s even possible to get a great shot of Auckland and Ragitoto very well-composed together. Quite nice, that.
Once nearer the road, the trail switches from dirt to gravel. Which is unsurprising once you realize…
…that you’re walking through someone’s yard. Not sure why you’d bother getting a secluded house out in the middle of the forest if there’s going to be hikers tramping through your driveway at all hours, but that’s New Zealand.
You do have to walk just a little bit on the road in order to complete the loop, but it’s not too bad.
So there you have it. Fairy Falls! A great day hike; it only takes a couple of hours even accounting for monkeying about with cameras, so it’s a great spot for a nice picnic or a casual walk.
See you next time for another Waitakeres waterfall!