One of the many attractions of New Zealand is its scenery and natural wonders, including more than 1500 waterfalls. Some of these waterfalls are transient, only appearing after heavy rain. Not so the Bridal Veil Falls (also known as Waireinga), in the Waikato region. These have been a permanent feature of the landscape for more than two million years.
In Search of the Bridal Veil Falls
It took us longer to find the Bridal Veil Falls than it should have done. That’s mainly because we took the “scenic” route via Kawhia. I don’t recommend this, unless you have a penchant for long drives along unsealed roads, with no phone signal for emergencies… As we discovered when we left, it is very much easier to drive the 28 km from Raglan, a laid-back surf town on the west coast.
However you get here, the wheelchair friendly track from the car park to the upper viewing platform is a pleasant ten minute walk through native forest. If you are feeling energetic you can walk the 261 steps down to the bottom of the waterfall. This takes another ten minutes, but don’t forget that you have to come up again!
The Magic of Waireinga
The descent is worth the effort. The Bridal Veil Falls have a 55m drop, the result of ancient volcanic activity. As the water cascades it sends out spray, creating the perfect environment for ferns and mosses. Rainbows play at the base of the waterfall, birds chatter, and you are surrounded by lush vegetation on all sides.
The Maori name for the falls is Waireinga, meaning “leaping waters”. This is a reference to the wairua, or spirits, that leap through the water. And, according to tradition, the area is protected by Maori fairies, or Patupaiarehe. It is all part of the magic of Wairenga.
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