Some people you meet – and you can almost feel the goodness just radiating off them. You wonder if the saying ‘a heart of gold’ was created with them in mind. Every bit of good they experience they want to share with others.
And the other day, we were lucky enough to cross paths with one of these people. Except, he was even more, he was what we would call a local legend.
So let me explain a bit more. It was our first week hitting the open NZ road in Vinnie, and the three of us decided we would head south to the Catlins – a region none of us had visited before. The three of us were beyond excited to see the abundance of sparkling waterfalls, the cheeky sea-lions and of course the iconic nugget point lighthouse. (Blog on our top eight experiences in the Catlins is coming SOON!).
When we started exploring all of the beautiful Catlins waterfalls, we were determined to find a waterfall called Koropuku Falls – a hidden waterfall we’d recently read about in an online blog, and even more intriguing, we’d heard two locals had actually found the falls and made the path out to it. It didn’t seem well known which to us, made it even more exciting.
Thankfully, before we left Christchurch (while we were waiting for Vinnie’s lengthy rust repairs) we had spent quite a few days in the Linwood Library doing trip planning, and during this time, we made sure to spend the time finding the exact coordinates for Koropuku Falls and starring it in Google Maps.
Coordinates (it's about 20 minutes south of Papatowai):
The reason this was lucky was two-fold, firstly there was no cell phone reception in the area so Google mapping our way out of that pickle was no option and secondly, the sign for Koropuku falls is quite discrete and unimposing, almost blending into the beautiful landscape it sits in front of.
When it looked like we were pretty much at our ‘starred location’, James instantly said “uhh nope, this isn’t right” and we basically resigned ourselves to the fact we wouldn’t find the falls. We were just on the same highway, looking at the same trees, admiring the same hills as we’d been doing for quite some time. Then all of a sudden we saw a small sign saying Koropuku Falls and our excitement instantly skyrocketed. We had of course driven past the sign by that stage, but within minutes we had turned around, packed our bag and were off on our way. It felt just like we were little again and off embarking on some great unknown adventure. (Which, as a side note has me wondering when [and more importantly why] did we stop seeing each new day as a great unknown adventure?). The path to the falls was beautiful. Almost entirely lined by logs from Panga Trees (which we later learnt were donated by a neighbouring farm), the trail slowly meandered along the stream, taking you through stunning native plants and trees. We did the walk around 2pm and the dappled light shining through the trees was the definition of enchanting. All together it took us about 12 minutes to reach the falls.
As we arrived at the falls the two of us were speechless. It was a simple waterfall, yet, somehow, extraordinary at the same time. It was special.
James and I spent a good hour at Koropuku Falls - splashing about in the (rather chilly) water, snapping a few pictures and sitting down to eat. (There is a small bench at the end of the falls and another about halfway along the track).
As we returned to Vinnie and were just chucking our bag away, a friendly man approached us and asked how we enjoyed the falls. We could barely contain our excitement, both of us shooting off a thousand compliments about the scenery and falls. And this is before we knew who we were talking to. I even told this man he might like to wear water shoes as the track could get a wee bit muddy in spots.
When suddenly this man gives us a massive grin and says ‘yeah my mate and I found these falls and made this track’. For a minute James and I were speechless. And then I thought to myself ‘oh, he probably knows he needs gumboots then’.
He generously went on, telling us how the falls were on the map but never actually discovered. And then about 15 years ago, he thought the falls didn’t look to be too far from the highway so he decided to set off exploring the area with a mate. And they did just that. He told us how they bush bashed for about two and a half hours before they reached the falls (which in my head seemed unfair when we had pretty much arrived at the falls in a short hop, jump and skip thanks to their considerate path). He explained he had done quite a bit of tramping throughout New Zealand and wanted to create this track as a way of giving something back. Giving a bit of joy to those passing through our beautiful country. So he did it. He got the logs, made the sign, put down the wool-packs and opened Koropuku Falls.
Some of you may know that one of our goals this year is to be more grateful and as such, we’re using a gratitude journal to reflect on three things we’re grateful for each day. This encounter with Wayne had us beyond grateful. To not only have people like this exist, but to have them share their special places with the world. To want to share their special places with the world.
If you’re in the area – do check out Koropuku Falls (use the coordinates above and wear your gumboots/shoes that can get a bit dirty!). And if you get time, write Wayne and Peter a thank you note – we’re lucky to have such generosity among us.
Edit – the exact location of Koropuku Falls is now on Google Maps!