Walking Waikato – The Te Waihou Walk
This walk is a stunner and is more commonly known as Blue Springs, near Tirau.
One warning however…the walk is now very crowded on weekends and the number of people tramping the track is impacting the peace and pristine ecology of the area. Tramp on with respect for the environment.
Address: Off White’s Road (left off State Highway 28. There’s good signage.) It’s near Putaruru and Tirau.
Directions: Take State Highway 28 and turn left at White’s Road. The car park is a few kilometres along on your right. You can’t miss it.
Incline: Slight, here and there.
Dogs: No, sorry. It’s a National Park
Mountain bikes: No sorry. It’s only a tramping trail.
Swimming: Yes, yes and yes! There’s even steps leading in to the water at the Pools.
Picnic area: Yes, soft grass area by river and bridge, and a couple of picnic tables near carpark area and at the Pools.
Toilets: Yes, numerous along the tramping route.
Camping: No, sorry. Day trips only
Wheelchair friendly? This walk is not really suitable for wheelchairs.
Duration and Distance : 2.5 to 3 hours average. If you’re fit you’ll do it more quickly. Leave enough time for a stop at the pools for a swim and picnic. Just under 9km round trip.
This tramp is a fairly easy morning or afternoon venture. And quite simply, it’s a stunner. The Blue Pools are majestic and the tramp trims the edge of the river for several kilometres, and includes some minor farmland sections, picturesque rainforest stretches and kilometre upon kilometre of tramping tracks accompanied by the peaceful echoes of river and stream rapids and rock pools. It’s well worth the drive down from Hamilton or Cambridge or even Tauranga. But our strong advice is to negotiate the tramp on a weekday when the weekend and holiday crowds have thinned and you can enjoy the walk in relative peace.
We started our walk at the White’s Road end and made our way along the water course and through the farmlands, before coming across a very pretty grove of trees that had been planted along the walkway. This was an added delight and contrasted the green farmland nicely. Green, cool and a very pretty interlude before heading further along the track towards more lush rainforest and the Pools some kilometres away. There’s also a fantastic little spot right at the beginning of the tramp (the White’s Road end.) As you enter from the carpark there’s a beautiful area under the stringybark gum that hugs the bank. This is a great place for visitors who who may not be able to do the full walk. It’s a nice place to swim and it’s a perfect spot for laying out that rug and sharing a picnic. If you’re not able to do the full tramp, you can park yourself here and have a beautiful day communing with nature.
The water along the water course is a very refreshing 11 degrees but don’t let that stop you! It’s some of the cleanest water in the Waikato and the spring is a source for some of New Zealand’s best bottled water. Just make sure you’re not covered in creams and lotions on the day, as these can adversely affect the flora and seagrasses along the banks and riverbed as well as reduce the water quality. We dipped in as did a number of other people. Some of these made their way to the pools from the other end of the walk, which is a lot closer and more suitable for older walkers who may not feel confident about the White’s Road round trip.
The rainforest sections of the walk are a little way further on and well worth it. Ferns and epiphytes huddle the banks of the water course and are an added bonus along the tramp. This rainforest scenery is spectacular and in my view it’s why New Zealand has a reputation as one of the best tramping and nature destinations in the world. There’s certainly something to be said for being able to enjoy spectacular scenery freely and easily without the added stress or complication of deadly snakes, spiders, bull ants and other less than savoury predators you find in other countries! There’s a tame wildness to the New Zealand outdoors and it’s a treat to tramp without fending off bull ant bites and keeping an eye out for the occasional brown snake as one has to do in Australia!
We really enjoyed this walk and highly recommend it. But once again we strongly suggest this tramp is undertaken in early morning before the crowds or even better on weekdays if you have the opportunity. It’s a stunning Waikato Walks fixture that is a must. The only other proviso we offer is to make sure you respect the delicate ecosystem when out here at Te Waihou. Minimise your human footprint and make sure you take all rubbish or scraps away with you and leave the place as spectacular as it was when you arrived. It’s a special place for all of us to share and enjoy. It’s a good place for a day out, an early morning jog or a family get together. There’s even a number of toilets positioned along the course of the tramp to make things a lot easier. One to definitely do in summer!