I actually got the idea from the lovely Cait (she's cait.chd on Instagram) who we visited on Christmas Eve. They usually head over to Waihi as a family for a break after Christmas and always drive through Karanghake Gorge which is what got me thinking that it would be a cool spot to explore with the boys - that and the fact some photography friends had been there recently as well.
We managed to time our day out (December 27th) along with the mass exodus of people exiting Auckland and Hamilton which made for a slow trip through Paeroa and an abundance of people at the Gorge as well - we will know better for next time!
The Gorge is also now part of the Hauraki Rail Trail - one of NZ's great bike rides so for every one person walking through the Karangahake tunnel there were easily two on bikes - something I wasn't expecting after not visiting this area since my youth!
The tunnel is 1.1km long and it's useful to take a torch (or headlamp) as our model shows!
As we got closer to the tunnel we realised that despite the warm day it was going to be very chilly inside so Poppa was duly sent back to the van to get some jackets for us all.
I enjoyed the opportunity to set up the tripod and take some shots although had to keep my wits about me to make sure the camera and I didn't get bowled over by any enthusiastic cyclists coming upon me in the pitch black of the tunnel!
With the volumes of people inside the tunnel, I'm quite surprised I managed to get shots that look so empty, but a long exposure definitely helps a bit there!
After exiting the tunnel stage right, we followed the river and headed back around the Gorge past some fairly narrow turns and explored the old ruins of the gold mining area.
Once we made it back to the still overflowing carpark, we decided to head up the road a few minutes to find Owharoa Falls for lunch.
This is a stunning example of a cascading waterfall as you'll ever see - and despite some lunatic climbing up the side of the waterfall who I was sure was trying to get himself and his small child killed (some people!) we sat and enjoyed the soothing sounds of falling water while munching on our picnic lunch and I set up the camera for some long exposure shots.
This is one of the loveliest shots I've taken of the boys with Nana and Poppa in a good long while even though it was just on my phone - I shall treasure it!
With the afternoon still young and knowing that Waihi wasn't THAT far away, we decided to head further on to take a peek at the Martha Mine - boy is it one massive huge hole in the ground. It's impressive enough to look down into at 260 metres deep but even more so when you realise it takes an hour to walk around the outside of it!
The boys were keen on a dip and as Waihi beach was only another short hop away we headed on to the beach so the boys could have their first swim in the sea of the summer!
And on the way back, we just HAD to stop for the iconic shot in front of the L&P bottle in Paeroa.
There were a few closed eyes and rolling heads on the journey home - Nana and the boys all taking advantage of the late afternoon journey back to have a wee 40 winks in the back of Poppa's shuttle!
It was a wonderful day out exploring this part of the country - and great to have had the chance to include Nana and Poppa in our day of adventure.