All we could hear was the soft crunch of our shoes on the path gravel, the occasional click of a camera lens and birdsong echoing around the valley.
We made our way up the gradual rise of old mine tracks, with an occasional flurry up a flight of sturdy steps. Stopping every so often to grouch at our cameras, and then crouching to read the information boards posted in front of moss covered mining equipment, we simply followed the path.
Slipping between the Coromandel and Kaimai ranges, the road winds from Waihi to Paeroa, following the carved out riverbeds and soaring hillsides.
We picked a sunny afternoon to take a walk through the gorge, one that wasn’t too hot or cold, somewhere in the centre.
Having not been there since I was a small child (except to pass through by car on the way to my Dad’s) my Dad, stepmum and I fuelled up on a cracking pie before tackling the well known Windows Walk. Sadly recovering from a recent knee operation my stepmom stayed in the car, but shoed us onwards – probably wanting a bit of piece from our endless stream of witty jokes.
Originally set up to mine the rich gold seams in the area, in the late 1800s/early 1900s batteries at the end of the gorge pummelled ore to extract that rare metal. Nowadays the area is simply used by tourists and restless locals to explore the beautifully wooded gorge.
So that’s just what we did.
It wasn’t any more complicated or fanciful than that, just a hour wandering along dappled pathways, admiring the scenery.
Following the curving path, at one point we found ourselves in old tunnels, squidging through soft mud in the pitch black between the softly lit swinging light arcs of my iPhone. (Because millennial, and worse, an unprepared millennial.)
Every 20 or 30 meters the afternoon sunshine would beam through the tunnel windows, allowing us to stop and admire the rushing river below.
Just so pretty. Too pretty for words.
As we walked we would occasionally happen upon clusters of friends or family with pups on leads, but with a friendly smile one of us would disappear around the next curve and we were left in peace again. To crack terrible jokes.
I wish I could bottle this peace and bring it back with me to London, to occasionally open and clear my mind. Instead I’ll just blog about it and hope that one day technology will make that possible.
Once we crossed the river bridge, our mine tunnel windows simply became black smears in the rock face. The water rushed over smoothed rocks and gurgled along the banks lined with ferns and trees.
My country, my heart, my Aoteoroa.
And an obligatory shoefie – because you can take the blogger out of London…
Do you love hiking or walking?