Leaving Whakatane we had one last leg to the holiday, driving to Hamilton. Camping now done with we decided to eat out and had the unfortunate experience of eating at a place called Cafe Surfside. My pancakes were ok (if rather too much for me to finish) but Keryn’s french toast was terrible, a case of tasting as bad as it looked. Not the nicest way to leave the coast.

We were driving around the outskirts of Rotorua on the way to Hamilton and when we were planning the trip I had noticed a few places on the map that might be good for some river shots. Forest & Bird were running a Wild Rivers photo competition and I had an idea to get some shots people river rafting and the Kaituna River looked like it would be a dramatic place to see such action seeing as it includes the highest raftable waterfall in the world (or so they say on the rafting sites) at Okere Falls.

It was raining, at times heavily, when we arrived near the turnoff to the falls. Luckily we arrived just as two rafts were about to head down the river so I got in position downriver to take some shots as the rafts entered the first small set of rapids.

IMG 3827Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Rafting the Kaituna River

We then headed across the road and parked, guessing that the path from the carpark would follow the river to a viewpoint. Sure enough it did and we waited, soon hearing a whistle and then shouting as the rafts navigated some larger rapids. The passengers looked like they were enjoying themselves, the guides also having a good time on the swollen river.

IMG 3853Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Waving for the camera

IMG 3861Photo by Brendon & Keryn

Holding on

From the signs we’d seen at the carpark it looked like the large waterfall was further down the track and I guessed, incorrectly as it turned out, that it’d be near the carpark at the other end of the river path. So we went back to the car and drove to the further carpark. This was a mistake and by the time we found the waterfall we’d missed the rafts coming through. Still, it was an impressive sight so I took some photos.

IMG 3879Photo by Brendon & Keryn

A waterfall on the river near the second carpark

IMG 3893Photo by Brendon & Keryn

The waterfall we’d come to see

One of the shots I took, the one above, actually won me the “Wild Rivers – Without People” section of the Forest & Bird competition so that was pretty good and was worth getting a little wet. Once again planning pays off. You can see all the winning photos on the Forest & Bird website. One other little bonus was that the competition was judged by well known New Zealand photographer Craig Potton and he had some nice things to say about my photo: “It’s a wonderfully executed photo that kept my eyes wandering over the picture frame, entranced by the details. A nice tension in the composition between thirds and halves. Great full frame feel”.

Once done walking it was back to the car and on to Hamilton. The weather kept things interesting, we passed through some incredibly heavy thunder storms with visibility reduced to a few metres at times. It was good to arrive in Hamilton and get a warm welcome from Bridget, Dean and Adam.

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