06 June 2017

Niagara Falls: a place like no other on Earth

Our main reason for detouring to England via Toronto was so we could make the trip to Niagara Falls - and our American Airlines flight had allowed us to add in this leg at no extra cost so it was a no brainer. The drive to Niagara takes about 1 and a half hours and is easy freeway driving the whole way. What felt weird though was that we’d come from the USA where everyone drives on the right and distances were in miles, now here we were in Canada driving on the right with kilometres and soon we’d be in England driving back on the left in miles again. Strange world we live in!

The day we were at Niagara was pretty grey but I wasn’t upset - that’s perfect waterfall photography weather - much better than bright sunshine. It also was very quiet by tourist standards - a lot of shops not even open yet for the season - I can’t begin to imagine how busy it must get in summer! We decided to do the Journey behind the Falls - which is a walk down into some tunnels behind the Falls with a lot of information explaining the history of the Falls, the geography and some other interesting facts. There are several portals where you can see the water rushing down in front of you - it’s hard to describe just how loud and powerful the Falls are from behind here. 


I really enjoyed reading facts such as:

  • the rate of erosion of the Falls used to be 1 metre per year. However with all the hydroelectric activity upstream which controls the rate of flow this has been reduced to 3 cm per year
  • various people have tried stunts over the falls - the first and most famous to survive going over the Falls was Annie Taylor who did it on her birthday in 1901. Many people have died trying to go over the Falls either intentionally or not. 
  • The most famous survivor is a 7 year old boy Roger Woodward who survived in just his bathing costume and a lifejacket after a boating accident upriver.  
  • A million bathtubs a minute empty over the Falls or 150 million litres of water a minute. The Falls are part of the Great Lakes water system which holds 1/5 of the world’s fresh water and the Falls are found between Lake Eerie and Lake Ontario.
After we’d had our fill of enjoying the view from both the more beautiful Canadian Horseshoe Falls and the American Bridal Veil Falls, we took a drive down the river to Niagara-on-the-Lake. The countryside was full of what looked like Canadian summer homes - some very grand and imposing affairs. What was also interesting was the lack of fences between properties - it was hard to tell where one finished and the next started. 

With a few hours to kill before the light show at the Falls by night, we headed to the outlet stores and wiled away a good few hours and enjoyed how cheap everything was with the Canadian dollar the same as the NZ dollar - I was particularly pleased with finding a bargain on some Salomon hiking boots - $100 vs $300 if I’d bought the same pair in NZ - roll on some more mountain hikes!

It took me so long to decide whether to buy the boots though that we only just made it back to the Falls as the clouds lit up for sunset - it was touch and go for a minute but I got down to the water’s edge just in time. We then hung around waiting for the light show to start at 8pm and when it did we were very underwhelmed. We couldn’t decide if the amount of spray going over was blocking the light or the lights weren’t working properly but for whatever reason the colours looked nothing like the images I’d seen online. I was frustrated as it felt like it was almost impossible to get a good shot. 

We then made the call to go up the Skylon Tower for a better view - this proved to be a good decision as from high above the views were much better, and suddenly the light show seemed to kick into top gear. The challenge up there though was getting the tripod balanced between all the metal fences to take a shot without the metal grilles in the way but with some careful manoeuvring I managed to fire off some shots and videos of the falls lit up with the lights of Niagara on the American side making the whole scene look like a mini Las Vegas! It was a late night home that night, with the hour and a half drive back we didn’t get to the apartment till nearly midnight!

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