Have you ever made a New Year’s Resolution to realize you have only one-day to do it?
On January the 30th, I had to do just that.
My New Year’s Resolution was to travel outside of my home town of Auckland at least once every month in 2018. I had to think fast if I was going to keep this promise to myself with only one more day to go (31st). There was no time to over-think it. I had to go somewhere, anywhere outside of Auckland…
…and, while I could’ve gone with a safe choice like Huntly or Hamilton (only an hour or two south of Auckland) I wanted my first New Year’s destination to be a little more special; somewhere I’d never been to before, somewhere new, exciting and would capture that feeling of being a tourist.
Also, kind of like a stay cay adventure, so…
Where should I go?
With time against me I skimmed through multiple Top 10 lists of places to visit in New Zealand. The Blue Spring at Te Waihou Walkway in Waikato came up and it was this description that grabbed my attention:
“water so pure it supplies around 60% of New Zealand’s bottled water”
“it produces a beautiful blue color while being virtually clear”
With the destination set and time running out (I would eventually leave Auckland at 1 pm), I threw together a mostly complete LIST of stuff I’d need for the Road Trip:
- Transport (car with a 3/4 full tank)
- Clothes (singlet x 1, light track pants x 1, walking shoes x 1, light jacket x 1)
- Other (backpack x 1, sunglasses x 1, sun lotion x 1, insect repellent x 1)
- Lunch (leftover chicken salad, utensils, plastic bag for rubbish)
- Snacks (bottled water from home x 3, banana x 1, apple x 1)
- Phone (charging cable x 1, car charger x 1, mains charger x 1, power bank x 1, headphones x 1)
- DSLR (spare battery x 1, SD card x 1)
- Directions (printed map, maps app)
Here’s a secondary list of what I should’ve brought as well:
- Backup Power Pack (for my iPhone and because the one I had was buggered/not working)
- Backup SD Card (for my DSLR and because I couldn’t use my phone)
- Prescription glasses (fairly important for, you know, actually seeing and especially for driving at night)
- Hat or cap (although I was fine without one)
The Blue Spring is a 2 – 3 hr drive (one-way) south of Auckland. There’s two walking trails that make up Te Waihou Walkway; one of them takes 15 minutes from the car park on Leslie Drive and the other is 1.5 hrs from the main car park on Whites Road. Both take you to The Blue Spring although the longer one has far better views.
I would later decide to do both by starting from the main car park on Whites Road to The Blue Spring, continuing to the car park on Leslie Road and then back again. This way I could mark both off my list.
Back to leaving Auckland, I was all packed and ready to go but I had to decide from one of two driving routes; through Hamilton or Mata Mata.
As this was my first time to the Blue Spring I went with the recommended route: through Hamilton and now, after the fact, I recommend you go through Mata Mata. It’s a much better drive (greener views with rolling hills) and, in my experience, with a lot less road works.
If you find yourself on the Hamilton route there’s a couple of city stops along the way if you need to freshen up, take a break or take some photos (namely, Huntly and Hamilton).
Tirau is a fun stop and is accessible from both routes.
The Blue Spring is mere minutes from Tirau so after a quick set of selfies (I haven’t been there in years) I was in the car park on Whites Road and preparing for what would be a 4 hr adventure (3:30 pm to 7:30 pm). I did a quick gear check, splashed on some insect repellent and sun lotion and I was off.
Te Waihou Walkway runs along side the Waihou River and the “virtually clear” water can be seen only a few minutes from either car park. If you’re really strapped for time you could call it a day at the first sight of clear water although I’d recommend the Leslie Road option as it literally felt like two or three short bends and you were there.
In terms of hills and stairs (I’m hardly fit or the poster boy of travel bloggers) I recall one set of stairs (on the longer trail) that goes “straight up” and you know how the cliche goes, “if I can do it so can you”. In this case, I think it’s true.
The Blue Spring, itself, surpassed all my expectations and it amazes me how I’d never heard of this hidden natural New Zealand wonder before. It’s my hope it continues to astound visitors for many generations to come.
Check out my YouTube video for a few highlights from my Road Trip and then keep on reading the wrap-up and conclusion…
Transport (I made it home without a petrol top-up) – $0
Food (leftovers, snacks) and Drink (bottled water from home) – $0
Insect repellent – $9.50
The Blue Spring & Te Waihou Walkway – $0
I should note if I didn’t already have a 3/4 full tank this Road Trip would’ve added another $100 to my budget so I suggest you calculate what your petrol expense will be from the distances involved (about 400 km round trip from Auckland and back again). My car’s a bit of a gas guzzler so I think you might be able to get away with half that.
January is Daylight Savings for New Zealand so sunset doesn’t start until 7 pm. Keep that in mind if you go any other time where it can start around 5 pm. If I did this exact trip in the middle of Winter I would’ve been walking back in the dark.
Also, consider combining this trip with one or more attractions like Hobbiton in Mata Mata and/or the Waitomo glow worm caves. There’s plenty of nearby places to stay, some of which I’ve already mentioned.
Finally, I haven’t been to either Hobbiton or the Waitomo glow worm cave in years so maybe I should add them to the list?
Stay tuned to find out, but until then…
Take care, Cliff