Take on Te Waihou
You’d be forgiven for driving straight past the Te Waihou Walkway – we had for many years – fobbing the entranceway to New Zealand’s world-famous Blue Springs as, “that place where people pull over to go to the bathroom just before Putaruru.”
Turns out, no one’s just stopping for a drink or a pitstop – the reasons are much clearer now. The Te Waihou Walkway, off State Highway 28, marks the beginning of a 4.7km trail to the Blue Springs – the crystal-clear waters that account for near 70% of New Zealand’s bottled water supply.
This ancient waterway originates from the Mamaku Plateau which takes 100 years to feed through to the spring. The result? The purest of purest waters that contain no constituents and particles, with colour so clear you can literally see through it. Why the blue? Because pure water lacks light absorbency – no red light in this mix – just blue and some green.
So, with clearer vision and the promise of easy walking flatland – a mix of farm and native bush – our family and extended family – armed ourselves with a picnic and set forth one sunny Saturday.
What we learnt along the way
Well, it was hot and the river water looked so inviting, however you’re advised not to swim as local Iwi and council have had to expend much time and energy clearing up where other people have left off – including much river bank restoration from 2015 onwards. Thus, because of people taking greater heed and care, the river is literally alive with thriving vegetation, fish and bird life.
Strollers and buggies would be fine – some portions of the trail do have steps but these are manageable and infrequent. And, the bonus of ‘no bike’ policy, means you are not having to side-step too often.
Our advice is to go early to beat the heat – be there by 9am – and aim to arrive at the Springs by 10. A round trip took us three hours – we calculated just over 8kms – which includes the hour-long picnic.
Blue Springs Quickfire:
- There are two entrances to the springs: Whites Road off State Highway 28 heading towards Putaruru, or Leslie Road if coming from Putaruru heading north.
- The springs supply half the township of Putaruru and near 70% of New Zealand’s bottled water.
- No bikes and no dogs are permitted.
- Fishing is allowed on the Te Waihou river but only with a license.
- 700 litres of water per second pours from the springs.
- The springs are at a constant of 11 degrees temperature year-round.
Is it like the pictures?
Better! Absolutely stunning and because swimming is a no-go, you can really appreciate the tranquillity and beauty of the springs and all that surround her – the carpet-like greenery that wafts below the surface and the fernery that dips its toes through the blue.