Getting into nature can offer a wonderful reprieve from life's busyness. Forest bathing has even become quite a thing - don't be daunted it's just a fancy way of saying healthy things happen when we hang out in the bush.
Check out our 'Getting into Nature' series for our top picks, all tried and tested by the Cranfields team.
The campground at Ōtaki Forks is gem with a lovely swimming hole and a couple of day walk options. Park at Ōtaki Forks (well, by the slip before the forks). You do need to walk on the old road for nearly an hour to get past the slip but hang in there – it’s worth it! After the initial stairs (over the slip) there are Koha Carts you can borrow to transport any gear.
Koha Cart in action!
If you’re feeling adventurous there’s a wonderful walk to Waitewaewae hut...
This track offers amazing scenery, lush waterfalls and very few fellow walkers. In my opinion it's right up there with the more high-profile great South island walks. Ideal on a hot day - much of the walk is under the native canopy making it shaded and cool. This does mean the mud sticks around after any rainfall so prepare for some mud jumping.
Accommodation – it didn’t feel like there was a suitable area to pitch a tent but the hut is clean and well appointed. We stayed during the high season (early January) and there were plenty of spare beds.
The actual walking track to Waitewaewae hut follows a terrace above a stream and eventually meets up again with the Ōtaki River. DOC suggests 5-7 hours to the hut. However, you’ll need to add an hour to get past the Ōtaki Forks slip – it took us 8 hours in total and we are pretty fit. Be warned it’s quite technical – lots of clambering over tree stumps and up and down banks. I would suggest skipping walking poles because you need your hands free for support.
The swimming hole near the hut is down a steep path but well worth it!
If you have 3 days and enough food it's worth considering a rest day at the hut and coming out the following day. We stayed overnight and came out the following day – gorgeous, but 16 hours of climbing over 2 days felt like quite an achievement!