On Sunday my partner and I headed out to Karekare falls, summer is starting to show its face so I thought it would be a better chance than any to start making the most of it.
It's about a 30-45 minute drive from Blockhouse Bay, if you haven't been out Piha way before I'll just give you a cautionary warning that the roads are quite windy. But please dont go out there and travel at 40kms an hour, as it isn't the simplest road to overtake on.
The main road to Karekare falls and beach is rather tight fitting, so if you haven't been out there before I suggest to not taking your 40ft family bus haha. There have been a few slips out there in the past few weeks so take extra care as a bit of the road has fallen away, it's been cordoned off but this isn't the place you want to test the top speed in your car, or how many times it can roll down a cliff...
As you pass the main carpark to the beach, keep driving up the road a few meters and you will hopefully spot a small yellow directional sign to the left of the road, and that leads to the waterfall. The falls are about a 3 minute walk from the road side, you will pass a small rocky watery slope on your way there, which is quite cool to take some long expose pictures of. Young kids quite often climb up the slope or play in the running water, so don't be afraid to be a little adventurous yourself!
The water beneath the waterfall definitely isn't warm, but once you're in it's quite refreshing. The water is inhabited by eels so don't crap your pants if you feel something swipe past your feet; they only come out when it is quiet or at night anyway. And please DO NOT DIVE or jump in, that water is no where near deep enough, you can practically walk your way to the waterfall.
Getting right up close to the waterfall and looking up at it is pretty cool; the rocks are covered in a really soft, mossy/seaweed plant thing, I couldn't stop touching it because it felt like touching a cloud haha. Looking up the waterfall and seeing all the single water drops come falling down was awesome and would make an interesting picture; you would just want to use a waterproof camera obviously.
I'm not sure if you can get to the top of the waterfall, but there is a track just behind the picnic area that leads somewhere. I haven't been up there before so Cam and I decided to have a bit of a walk to see where it would take us. It's not too steep but you do need to have some sort of fitness in order to walk it, so sorry but your zimmer frame is not suitable for this terrain! We didn't actually get anywhere walking the track, as we turned around 10 minutes into it as Cams leg was giving him grief. The trail did give us some magnificent views though; being able to look out past the waterfall and right out to the beach without it at all being tainted by large skyscrapers or modern buildings was a truly beautiful sight.
Karekare is rather isolated when you compare it to any beach around the area. I'm not going to say you can happily skinny dip here without people noticing you, but you could probably get away with it after 4pm. I would watch out for the eels though if you do attempt it ;)
Karekare is just one of many waterfalls out west that you can swim at., I'm going to attempt to visit every West Auckland summer hotspot this season, because well... Life is too short to not find the treasures hidden beneath waterfalls!
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