Last week, I posted a video throwback to my time in Iceland. This time, I'm giving you another throwback but to last year when I was living in New Zealand. Reminiscent of all of the waterfalls I saw in Iceland, this post is about a waterfall I visited in Hawke's Bay.
Hawke's Bay is on the east coast of New Zealand's North Island. There's tons to do there, including several easy hikes that make for great day trips.
When Spring had finally sprung in the Southern hemisphere, Jono and I immediately took to the outdoors to cure our cabin fever. After a hike to Cape Kidnappers, we planned another jaunt to the famous Shine Falls.
The walk to Shine Falls goes through the Boundary Stream Reserve. It has some impressive views through farmland and native bush (forest) with plenty of birds to hear and observe along the way. The waterfall is deep in the reserve and its stunning—the perfect example of typical New Zealand beauty!
How to Get to Shine Falls
Shine Falls is located in Boundary Stream Reserve. The reserve is a 1.5 hour drive outside of the town of Napier. You'll take Matahorua Road off State Highway 2 and then Heays Access Road to the car park. The last 12 kilometers (7.5 miles) of the drive is on a gravel road.
Luckily, we were in Jono's new Ford 4x4, so we were prepared for the bumpy, dusty ride.
Drive anywhere in New Zealand, even 20 minutes, and you're bound to see a gorgeous view or three. We were on our way down the gravel road when we came across one of these views.
I made Jono pull over so I could to take a few photos of the vibrant green, peaked hills that stretched across the surrounding farmland.
New Zealand scenery never disappoints.
The Birds of the Reserve
Eventually we made it to the car park. Already there were signs emphasizing that this is, indeed, a reserve.
Any reserve in New Zealand usually means they are attempting to bring back the native flora and fauna to the area. Conservationists are trying to mimic what the area would have looked like before humans arrived. So they call it a "mainland island" as a result of its designated ecosystem restoration.
This project includes the preservation of the national icon—the Kiwi bird.
New Zealand conservationists are very proud of their diversity of bird species. At Boundary Stream, there have been increasing numbers of "bushbirds," such as kiwi, tui, bellbird and kereru. Conservation efforts have helped instigate these increases.
We spotted several birds on our hike, including the kereru—New Zealand's native wood pigeon and one of many birds on the nation's threatened list. I thought the kereru was so pretty, as it showed off its maroon, blue, and white colors in the native trees around us.
There used to be tons more birds and a greater variety before the introduction of "pests" (e.g., possums) through colonization. So preservation is now accomplished through fencing, natural geographical boundaries, and pest control.
The third of these preservation tactics—pest control—may include the controversial use of 1080 poison drops. There's an ongoing debate in New Zealand about its use because of its dangers to animals and humans.
New Zealand and Australia are the only Western countries that still use 1080.
The Walk to Shine Falls
The Boundary Stream walk will take the average hiker 45 minutes one-way to the falls.
It starts next to an open field featuring huge sandstone bluffs as a backdrop. To give you an idea of how big these were, I had Jono stand in the photo for perspective.
I love epic geographical features like this!
There are barely any inclines on the hike, but there are different paths at different levels. Several times near the start of the track, I found myself humming, "you take the high road and I'll take the low road and I'll be in Scotland before ye."
In an oh-so-symbolic act of deviation, I took the higher path which went along a ledge and then meandered into a wooded area where the path suddenly ended. So much for that—I had to awkwardly make my way down a slope to join up again with Jono. At least there were some nice views from up there!
The majority of the trail follows its way through lowland forest and over Boundary stream. All stream crossings are bridged so there's no need to worry about getting your boots wet.
The scenery around these bridges is picturesque, so get your camera out!
This is Shine Falls
Arriving at Shine Falls, you'll immediately notice its height. It's the tallest waterfall in Hawke's Bay at 58 meters (over 190 feet).
Shine falls is a "horsetail" fall because of its shape. The water is pinched at the top and then cascades down the side of the cliff, fanning out over grooves cut into the rock.
My favorite part about this waterfall is its seclusion. It's completely sectioned off by a huge surrounding cliff wall. If there wasn't still a Spring chill in the air, this would have been an ideal place for me and Jono to swim. It's an absolutely magical spot!
Additional Tips for Visitors
A 4WD vehicle will get you out to Boundary Stream Reserve more easily on the gravel road—but any car will do. Just take it slow on the loose stones.
Bring along some binoculars if you want to get into the bird watching here. It'll be some of the best in the area for native species.
During the walk, stop and read the signage. There's lots of interesting information provided to help acquaint you with the area and the conservation project.
Jono and I visited Shine Falls in the late afternoon. But at the right time of day, you could probably approach the falls as the sun is shining directly on it. I imagine this would amp up the beauty even more!
Once you reach the falls, you can back track to the car park or continue on the trail to a second car park on Pohiokura Road (another 45 minutes). Be sure to schedule transport back to your car off Heays Access Road in advance of the hike.
Shine Falls at Boundary Stream Reserve is an easy day trip. Due to conservation efforts there, I saw New Zealand as it was before humans arrived. The birds were diverse and numerous and the scenery on the way there was almost enough to rid me of my cabin fever without even seeing the falls!
However, as the tallest waterfall in Hawke's Bay, Shine Falls is absolutely worth the drive and short trek there. Don't miss out if you're in the area.