Be mesmerised by pools of aqua blue water, so crystal clear that every living thing in the water is as if it’s illuminated.
This is what the ‘Blue Springs’ and the Te Waihou walkway deliver, so get it on your list and get it done! This river personifies the clean, green image that NZ portrays around the world.
Blue Springs is the beginning of this amazing waterway, and can be accessed by a 15 minute walk from a carpark on Leslie Road.
But you’d be doing yourself a disservice to not walk the Te Waihou Walkway while you’re there. The beginning of the walkway is accessed from Whites Road, near Putaruru. It’s a little over a 2 hour drive from Auckland, so totally do-able as a day trip.
The walk alongside the river to the Springs is about 5km, with a couple of sets of stairs, but is mostly flat. Although the signage says it takes around 1.5 hours each way, we took just an hour, and that was with stopping lots of times for photos. There’s great signage all along the way, although some could be construed as a little confusing!
Right from the beginning, it’s the clarity in the water that amazes – and this is constant. The spring is fed from the Mamaku Plateau where the water takes 50 – 100 years to filter through! This water is so pure and clean that it supplies 60% of NZ’s bottled water. The clarity of the water seems to make everything pop – and photos just don’t do this justice.
Most of the walk is through farmland, edged with native bush, occasional wetlands (it’s ok they’re boardwalks over them), and some small but nonetheless beautiful waterfalls.
Pack a lunch before you go – there are a few spots to stop and picnic, and there are toilets along the route.
Once you’ve completed the walk, you’ll probably find you’ve got a couple of hours to spare before you want to head back to Auckland.
Of course, the main tourist attraction down this way is Hobbiton, but if you’ve already visited there, I have a couple of other recommendations for you.
If you like to shop, or you didn’t pack a picnic, and are now needing sustenance, head to Tirau. They have a delightful mix of beautiful shops – a Trelise Cooper outlet shop, beautiful homewares in the likes of Notting Hill, and plenty of places to eat and drink. New for me on the scene was the One Road Ice Creamery – delicious fresh ice creams and sorbets made on the premises. Go on – you’ve earned it!
If the body is not used to a 10km walk, there’s also another option for you – head to Okoroire hot pools for a soak in a natural hot pool. The pools form part of the Okoroire Hot Springs Hotel complex. This place is only a few kilometers from Tirau, but feels like it’s in its own world. The hotel feels like a step back in time – mind you, it has been there since 1889, so it really is a part of NZ’s heritage.
The walk to the hot pools is down a path lined with magnificent trees, standing like sentries, guarding the way. There are 3 pools to choose from, all sitting amongst beautiful natural bush, next to the Waihou River. This is the perfect way to ease those muscles, and relax into blissful serenity.
This little day trip is the perfect ‘balanced diet’, and has something to keep everyone happy. We absolutely loved it, and hope you do too!