When I travel I like to make the most of the time I have in a place. Travel is expensive and time is limited, so planning a trip to maximize the time my wife and I have in a place becomes an obsession leading up to our adventures. That being said, as I grow older I am learning that it is important to leave space in our lives and journeys for the unexpected. No matter how much I research and plan for a trip there is no substitute for the knowledge that locals have in the moment. Weather conditions and construction can make an otherwise gorgeous spot inaccessible. Then there are the places that you miss or overlook in the planning process. Marokopa Falls is one of those places we almost missed. It turned into one of the most memorable journeys on our adventure through New Zealand.
Due to rainy weather that had blown into the New Plymouth area, Jennifer and I had decided to leave the town a night before we had originally planned. We made our way up the west coast to Mokau and found what ended up being a terrifying, but cheap RV park. I say terrifying because the showers/restrooms were overrun by spiders. You had to traverse a greenhouse-like structure that had become a gauntlet of spider webs to enter the restroom where you were greeted by more creepy crawlies. The shower stall was located under several of the eight legged creatures as well. I am a bit of an arachnophobic so for me this was the worst experience I had in New Zealand. That being said, when we arrived in the small town we had time to look around and speak to the locals and found out that if we took some backroads on our drive the following day we could visit the gorgeous Marokapa Falls that I hadn’t found in my research. So we made a plan to wake up early and see the falls before our scheduled tour at the Waitomo Caves the following morning.
Marokopa Falls is amazing and surrounded by lush green terrain. The trail is a short hike from the parking area and accessible to people of all ages. However, the backroads we took ended up being the real adventure. These roads were narrow. It was two-way traffic, but only wide enough for a car and a half really. It was a dense foggy morning and the terrain, while gorgeous, is mountainous. New Zealanders don’t seem to have met a terrain they won’t put an overly curvy road on. This also turned into a dirt road for half of the journey, and Google Maps struggled to know where we were so forks in the road became educated guesses. Even with all of that, the serene bliss of having this kind of terrain pretty much all to ourselves, only really sharing it with the thousands of sheep and cows, made it an unexpected, unplanned, and very memorable experience.