16 May 2023

The Warrior Waterfall

Nature closed the Wainui Falls to humans for a while. Torrential rain caused massive slips; it washed out bridges and splintered trees and strew the tracks with limbs and hurled boulders across the river's course towards the Tasman Sea.

Months later the Wainui Falls Track in the Abel Tasman National Park was ready to carry humans back to this precious place. 

On the restored track, new growth from storm-damaged plants blends with damaged bush in a regenerative process. Conservation workers mended fences to make the walkers safe on swing bridges and beside steep drops. Thirty minutes into the walk, a rock staircase diversion replaces a shattered bridge. 

Ten minutes later the roaring water reaches a crescendo before you turn a corner to see the power and purity of this warrior waterfall, as it drops through the channel it's carved through granite rock and falls into a deep turquoise swirling pool. Wreaths of mist curl up into the air, with sprays of cool clear water to cleanse the mind and sooth the soul. 

Beside the track, the current continues its dramatic journey down towards the ocean, over and around giant boulders surrounded by dense native beech forest, with tall tree ferns encased in vines and nikau palms. Signs of restoration and renewal are all around. Tiny buttercup fungi cluster on native bark. 

The persistence of this waterfall, which powers down the river towards the sea, is a reminder from nature that falling fast does not always hurt us, when we are flexible and adapt to changing circumstances. Like this warrior waterfall, with courage and persistence, we too can recover and reroute along a different path. 


Mary Somervell

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