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Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Bridal Veil Falls

Totem in the Trail
Maori Greeting

Bridal Veil Falls is a beautiful plunge waterfall located along the Pakoka river near Raglan, New Zealand.

Andrew and I visited the falls the other day as a nice picnic lunch on our way into the town of Raglan. The road was very twisty with some steep sections, but we had no problems managing the drive in our campervan. The carpark is located approximately 15 kilometers from the SH23 road that travels from Hamilton to Raglan.

Bridal Veil Falls
The trail to the upper falls is short and gentle, suitable for wheelchairs and strollers. I was surprised to encounter a nice Maori totem in the middle of the trail partway through the forest. I love how the Maori culture and traditions have been integrated into so many parts of the country. The totem featured a traditional Maori greeting, which translates to:

"We greet all of you who come from near and far to this special place. Step lightly and enjoy."

The Maori name for the falls, Waireinga, means leaping waters. It refers to the fact that the river is known to the people of the land to be occupied by fairies who are considered to be guardians (kaitiaki) of the area and that the spirits leap the great height of this waterfall.
Top of the Falls

Falls and Forest
Bottom of the Falls
There were several picnic tables and benches along the path for people to stop and enjoy a nice rest or a snack. There were quite a few families and couples taking advantage of this when we went since it was a long weekend. It took us about ten minutes to walk from the carpark to the top of the falls, which has two different viewing platforms. Of course, Andrew and I had to take advantage of the stairs to the bottom of the falls to get a better view of the 55 meter drop to the pool at the bottom.

Unfortunately, swimming isn't permitted in the bottom pool since the water quality doesn't meet suitable health standards for swimming. It was certainly tempting though! It was quite a hot day and the pool looked quite inviting.

The lip of the falls is formed by a band of hard basalt rock from a volcano about 1.5 kilometers away. It is possible to see rock formations similar to the Giant's Causeway in Ireland that Andrew and I visited early in 2015. It was very interesting to see the bands of different stones so clearly visible. They were created by flowing lava that cooled at different rates from an eruption approximately 2.5 million years ago. As the lava slowed, the top and bottom began to cool and shrink, while cracks and joints appeared, creating the striations in the rock that we can see today. Since the lava was still flowing at the time, the bands of rock took on a distinctive curve, which is clearly visible from the bottom of the falls. I was quite surprised to see a picture of the Giant's Causeway on one of the signposts, since it is so far away. I was even more excited to have been there and to have a better idea of what the sign was talking about.

Andrew and I relaxed at the base of the falls a bit, but it was quite crowded so we decided to hike partway up the 250+ stairs to the midway point and enjoy our picnic at one of the benches midway up. We have found that some cheese, sandwich meat, and rice crackers makes for a very tasty and portable lunch. Overall it was a very enjoyable walk and a great way to spend an afternoon.

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