If you enjoy the energy and flow of tumbling water, put Rere Falls Trail on your plans. Meanings of ‘rere’ include: waterfall, to escape, and, to fly. All seem apt descriptors for this journey deep into the magnificence of Eastland.
Under Nga Haerenga, The New Zealand Cycle Trail, Rere Falls Trail is a Heartland Ride. It connects to Motu Trails, one of Nga Haerenga’s 22 Great Rides. Over its 100km distance, Rere Falls Trail takes you on sealed and good gravel back-country roads from Gisborne to Matawai (or the other way around). Along the way, you climb from Poverty Bay’s vineyard-rich plains up to high-country farms and through pockets of remote forestlands.
As with all trails of Nga Haerenga, there are many ways you can experience Rere Falls Trail to suit your fitness levels and preference for exertion: being on-road all the way you even have the option of driving to different points, or mixing in biking, walking – perhaps rock-sliding – along the way.
Here are five Rere Falls Trail choices, ranging from an easy bike cruise on flat wine-country roads to fit-legging it across the hilly base of East Cape.
1. EASY: Eastwoodhill Arboretum
to the rockslide and return
Eastwoodhill Arboretum is the national arboretum of New Zealand, nestled in the Ngatapa Valley, about 35km from Gisborne. It’s a natural wonderland with around 20,000 trees – 3500 different species of exotic and native trees – spread over 131 hectares. What’s more, with about 25km of diverse walking trail, there’s ample opportunity for an energetic visit. Especially in spring blossom and autumnal turn, the hills are rich in colour.
Eastwoodhill was born out of the incredible vision and effort of Douglas Cook who, following WW1, began planting the largely-bare land with trees and shrubs sourced from around New Zealand and England. Cook’s focus soon broadened to include Asia and the Americas. Today, the arboretum is led by a trust and has an international reputation as being an important ‘arboreal ark’, reflecting that New Zealand is somewhat buffered by distance from many of the world’s environmental challenges.
From the arboretum, it’s about a 28km out-and-back journey to visit Rere Falls and Rere Rockslide, on sealed, undulating road all the way. Both of these giant natural water features are fed by the Wharekopae River. Rere Falls is about five metres high and 20 metres wide – it is very impressive when the river’s pumping. Some thrill-seekers even venture behind the curtain of water, though the slippery rock requires careful negotiation.
Three kilometres further up the road from the falls, Rere Rockslide is a 60m-long rock slope that has been formed and smoothed over thousands of years. The slope is about 30 degrees with a slip-and-slide-factor of about 10-plus! You can zoom down on an inflatable or board, or by just sitting on a sheet of plastic.
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