With all the talk lately of crossing borders, traffic lights and locked in boundaries, I felt a little boundary of my own coming on. Boundary Stream Mainland Island, an area boasting the tallest waterfall in Hawke's Bay, mixed podocarp native forest and an array of protected native birds, is around an hour's drive north of Napier. After a bit of ringing around, we gave ourselves the green light and a small group of us took off into the bush.
Although it's a bit of a drive to get to, any trip out of town and into the hills is always well worth the over inflated price of a top up of gas. We decided to do the "downhill" version of the walk, starting at the Boundary Stream carpark and walking down to Shine Falls. To make this work, we dropped one car at the finish line, piled into the other car and drove to the start. Other options include both parties starting at either end and swapping keys in the middle or conversely making the round trip. The latter would definitely be worth a shot somewhere in the near future. But for this trip we took the easier option "to cater for all fitness levels".
A glance at the DoC sign suggested it might take us five hours to reach the Shine Falls carpark — not what the book I'd consulted had said — so with the old Aesop's Fable, The Tortoise & The Hare springing to mind — slow and steady (turns out not so steady) — the four of us headed off on what was initially a very slight downhill gradient. So far, so good.
Although the track is designated for experienced trampers, I found the leaf-littered path sturdy underfoot, a few ups and downs, tree roots to watch out for and some fairly easy to navigate uphill grunts. I do spend a fair bit of my spare time trudging up hills, so maybe my efforts were beginning to pay off. But let's not get too cocky — there was a river to cross — well, more like a wee bubbling brook. After many glimpses of the mountain stream as we traversed the bends in the track, we were now upon it and needed to get across it. Time to hop from one slippery moss-laden rock to another and maybe lend a hand to those less steady on their feet.
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Fast as lightning, one member of the party showed off their obvious prowess and flew across, barely touching the water. The next strode gallantly across the rocks to the middle, feet placed astride and hand at the ready to guide the one feeling a little nervous to safety. With a buoyed sense of stream hopping confidence I followed suit, planting my feet on a couple of well-spaced rocks and reaching out for a flailing hand, trying to both be helpful while at the same time remain dry-footed. Mission accomplished, three now across, so time to make my move. Hop, hop, leap, sideways rock manoeuvre and in I slid. Into the icy, muddy water. Not all of me, just the boot. As quick as a flash I removed my sodden foot with a shake and continued up the other side, now making a distinct sloshing sound with each footstep.
My next slip up — more like down — was just around the corner. We needed to clamber to the bottom of a fairly steep slope, so leading the way I gingerly placed my dry boot firmly in front of me. Unfortunately, it had a mind of its own, skidding forth with the rest of me following. This time, my blunder did not go unnoticed. While I dusted myself off, the rest of them laughed way too loudly, as they made their way easily down the actual path — the one I'd failed to notice.
Some very steep downhill banks and a couple of small leaf skids later, we arrived at the jaw-dropping magnificence of Shine Falls. We enjoyed a well-earned cooling off before wandering the last half hour or so to the end of the track, where our trusty vehicle was waiting. A highly recommended day out, within easy reach of many.