Last time we looked at Oakley Creek Falls, a waterfall just a short jaunt down the motorway from the city center. Today we’ll go up to the North Shore — Albany, to be specific — and check out another waterfall.
Or at least try to *foreboding music*.
There are basically three ways to get to Lucas Creek Falls. The first and ostensibly most scenic route starts in a little neighborhood on Perekia St behind a Super Liquor — an auspicious beginning, if there ever was one.
From the end of the loop, there’s a largely unmarked gravel walkway leading down into the scrub. It’s not at all clear where this walkway leads, but examining a map suggests that it meanders by a stream until it encounters the Gills Scenic Reserve and, subsequently, the waterfall.
Unfortunately, this plan is foiled by the world’s least imposing fence. Walking around the fence would be the work of but a moment, but (very occasionally) these fences serve to actually prevent one from walking into real danger. Additionally (much more frequently) bypassing one of these fences will sometimes lead one to construction workers who are quite cross at having to break their hearty regimen of shovel-leaning and dirt-staring to yell at intrusive tourists with cameras. I was not in the mood to risk either of these fates today; and besides, there are two other paths to the falls.
If you get back on Dairy Flat Highway and then turn onto Gills Rd, you will forthwith pass over this one-lane bridge. Immediately on your left is a dirt path with a tiny sign reading Gills Scenic Reserve.
Taking your car down this dirt path may indeed lead to bad things, especially if your car is a low-slung Italian convertible. A wiser individual may choose to park on the street, though there’s no street parking particularly near the reserve so your choices are the industrial park across the bridge (thus requiring you to cross the one-lane bridge on foot) or a neighborhood well up the road.
There is, sadly, no reason to bother with either (or with driving down yourself), as this route is also closed.
There is, be it known, one more option for accessing the falls. If you walk down on foot back to Dairy Flat Highway (again) and turn to the right, there is a near-immediate concrete pathway leading down, once again completely unmarked.
(This does imply that parking before the one-lane bridge is the wiser of the two options, as it makes this third pathway more accessible should it become necessary).
As is often the case in New Zealand, make sure you’re walking down the correct path and not, say, the walkway to someone’s front porch.
Say what you will about this path, however; it is well-paved.
Quite soon, the path arrives at a single bench and placard.
You can descend this most excellent set of stairs to meet…
Lucas Creek Falls!
Yes, after all that we finally made it.
Looking across the muddy and unappealing stream, we can see the path on the other side that I first intended to take. Unfortunately, this third option is on the wrong side of the stream and, while that means it’s accessible when the other path isn’t, it also means that the nice walk through the reserve I was planning just wasn’t going to happen.
If I really wanted, I could have used this fallen tree as a bridge and gone over to the other side, but if I wanted to go over that badly I’d just have walked around the fence.
I’m charitably assuming that during the Winter work is being done on the path to ready it for foot traffic again in the late Spring or Summer, so I won’t flagellate the Council too badly over this mishap. But I will say that if you would like to see Lucas Creek Falls you certainly can, but don’t expect a nice walk to get there.
Next time we will not only go up a hill but down it as well! Stay tuned!