There are a few different walks in the Kaimanawa Forest. I mentioned the Urchin Track and Summit in yesterday’s blog post and there are two other neat sites to see in the park, Tree Trunk Gorge and the Pillars of Hercules.
Tree Trunk Gorge
Heading south on Desert Road the Kaimanawa Forest is on the left and there are a few roads leading into it. There are several places to see the gorges in the park and I’m not all to sure if each lookout was a different gorge. There are two that seem to be named Tree Trunk Gorge. Unfortunately in our meandering I’m not certain which roads we took to correspond with my pictures. Luckily I have pictures of signs at the beginning of walking tracks, but that doesn’t help with the streams we drive over.
We were caught off guard by the first gorge we came across. We had been driving down a narrow dirt road, Kaimanawa Road I believe, for a while and I was beginning to think we took the wrong route. We drove over a small bridge and I noticed some flowers at the entrance serving as a memorial. We stopped to check it out and were delighted by a beautiful narrow gorge and waterfall, surrounded by lush plant-life and smooth rocks. The water was racing through the narrow path carved deep into the rocks. It was beautiful and my pictures don’t do it justice.
The right side of the bridge gives you amazing views of the 10 foot waterfall and on the left you see the skinny path of water carved into the earth. The gorge past the waterfall is really deep. There wasn’t a lot of sun and the pictures I took just didn’t show the huge crack that looked more like the aftermath of a Hollywood movie earthquake than the result of something as benign as water. It is the kind of scenery that makes you want to dive in and be apart of the beautiful picture. At that moment I wished I were a rock climber and could descend down the rocky edge and swim through the river.
At the beginning of the bridge is a warning sign, telling kayaks not to attempt paddling over the waterfall into the deep gorge. If the sign doesn’t keep the adventurous types away, then maybe the flowers dedicated to those who lost their life in this spot would. Although, nothing is going to keep the most determined out. I found a blog post about a group who braved the waters and posted their story online. They have some amazing photos of the area, I’ve posted one below, please click on it to see their photos of the kayaks sliding over the falls.
Pass the bridge over the gorge is the Tree Trunk Gorge walking track. It is easy to miss and there isn’t much parking. We just pulled over in the bushes, there weren’t any other cars.
It is an easy walk through the forest next to the river. It takes about an hour to get to the end which leads to the campgrounds. About halfway through the walk we came across a stream that intersected our path. it had been raining the day before we went, so perhaps the steam is usually easily crossed. I took my shoes off and just waded across. Paul attempted to jump on some rocks that lined the path, but they were too small and too submerged so his feet got a little wet.