If you ask most people in New Zealand about the Wairere boulders, they will look at you with a confused face and tell you about the Moeraki Boulders north of Dunedin. Sarah and I visited there earlier this year and wrote about that visit in this blog. This time however we are in the Hokianga at the top of the North Island. On a mission to visit some of the historic places looked after by Landmarks Whenua Tohunga. So far, we have visited the Dargaville museum and Clendon House with the next blog all about our upcoming visit to the Mangungu Mission.
Never having heard of this place before we found the Wairere Boulders #383 in the travel directory and Googled the site to discover that not only is it a CAP parking area but it also has these fantastic ancient boulders that are the reason for the park. Admission is $15 per adult or $35 for a family, and that includes a free overnight stay in their park.
The Australians who were staying here in the rental motorhome had asked in Kerikeri about the boulders to be told about the ones in Dunedin. They had heard about the place from some friends in Australia, in the end, they also found the location on Google.
The road into Wairere was a little narrow in places and the last 10 km where metal road but it was well graded and reasonably rut free. Signs were talking about logging trucks, but we never encountered any. Along the way, several signs are telling you how far till the boulders, so you won’t get lost, there’s nowhere to turn off anyway.
Paula and Graham, who only took over this place in December 2017 have already done a tremendous amount of work making this place more attractive. Especially to motorhomers with an expanded upper carpark area (where we spent the night) and adding a whole new space in the lower field, especially for motorhomes.
The lower area has hard fill parking bays and looked very attractive as a place to stay with one exception. There is a very steep hill leading down to this area, and while I knew we would have no problem going down, I was almost sure that we would not have got back up again. That is one of the issues with these sizeable front-drive vans. Thankfully there was tons of space in the upper carpark area.
The place is really well set up with Paula and Graham running a Cafe that serves excellent coffee and scrumptious cakes and scones. It’s open full time in summer and at the weekends over winter. The couple is also really busy as running the farm. As an added bonus for those staying on-site, there are also toilets.
There are also chickens of almost every variety you can imagine as well as a magnificent vegetable garden.
We arrived relatively late in the afternoon after we visited Clendon House. We decided that we would undertake the short Boulder Loop before the sunset that day and then if it was a beautiful day the following day we could do one of the two longer walks before visiting Mangungu Mission.
I had to laugh at the signboard with pricing telling you that you could pay online as with absolutely no internet signal they would be really trusting you after you had driven away from the site. Thankfully we had cash, so that covered the entrance and the overnight stay. There is also an honesty box, or you could pay at the cafe when they are open.
Inside the shed, at the entrance, the walls are covered with information about the boulders, how they were formed, what they are made of, how they are shaped by erosion etc. It also includes how the walks and bridges where constructed in the early 2000s.
The walk follows the river uphill through and sometimes under and between huge basalt boulders that were ejected from an ancient volcanic eruption some 3.2 million years ago. During this time the boulders have been eroded by wind rain and trees to give some of the wrinkled shapes that appear today.
There is something for the whole family with the quest to find as many Fairy houses as you can on the walk. I must confess that I only managed to see two of them, and Paula told me there are many more than that. I guess it’s the sort of thing that kids would be good at spotting. But adults are getting a bit old to find the hidden magic.
Whoever put all of this together obviously had a sense of humour with the hidden Alligator amongst the rocks on the path. Neither Sarah or I could get over just how green everything was. The amount of moss and lichen on almost every surface made it slippery going at times, especially with recent rainfall. I was, however, the only one to take a slide, thankfully a rather minor one hurting my pride and nothing else.
I don’t know what it is with us and walks, but stairs just seem to magically appear whenever we head out on a track, you can just about guarantee they will be there somewhere! In summer there is as the sign says a swimming hole, but on the day of our visit, it was slightly too cold for that sort of madness. One could imagine though on a hot summers day how refreshing it would be cooling down in the river.
The times on the signs are slightly on the generous side, or perhaps we just walk too quickly but around 40 minutes after leaving we arrived back at the start of the track ready to settle down for the night.
We had a really peaceful night, almost total calm with no traffic noise or anything else to bother us very restful.
In the morning, we decided that we would take a walk to Magic Rock, this is a huge rock that sits on top of one of the nearby hills. The track starts out easy enough with a stroll out of the carpark and across the river. Thankfully we turn right at the end of the bridge rather than having to proceed straight ahead although that luck runs out a bit later on.
The walk through the bush up to the stile was uneventful, but as we got into the farmland, the track followed the fence line up the hill. As cattle had recently been in the paddock after weeks of heavy rain, the trail was just a bog with mud everywhere. We tried sticking as close as we could to the fence to try and stay on semi-firm parts of the ground, but that didn’t always work.
After much huffing and puffing well at least on my part we made it to Magic Rock which is so much more significant when you are actually standing there compared to even just a few metres below the summit.
The views from the top are absolutely spectacular, or perhaps I should say magic. As they say, what comes up must come down, so it was time to brave the mud again and head back to the motorhome for the trip to the Mungangu Mission and the next part of my assignment.
Staying at Wairere Boulders was a real and unexpected surprise that we hadn’t planned but having done it, it rates up with the best places we have visited and is one that you should consider when you are in the Hokianga. You can check out their website here. Go ahead, have an adventure.
A couple of things to also mention they have Kayaks available to use and you can actually paddle down as far as the local pub, they will then come and pick you up once you have arrived and you could grab a meal there if you wanted. They also have various sized gumboots available at the start of the walk if your shoes aren’t up to it.
To view the places we have visited click here to see them on Google maps. You can click the links to read the blog about that area.
To view the Ratings, we have done for other camps click here