“How beautifully leaves grow old!” wrote John Burroughs, the American naturalist and essayist. “How full of light and colour are their last days.”
Burrough’s himself could have been shuffling through the colourful leafy carpet around McLaren Falls Park when he made his equally vivid autumnal observations more than 100 years ago.
A few weeks ago, it was us enjoying the colour and the warmish sun while kicking up a pile of autumn leaves as we made our way around a section of the park.
McLaren Falls is a surprising mix of new and old, of the natural and the manmade, and of the tranquil and the seriously wild.
The name, McLaren Falls Park doesn’t give quite a full picture of what is available. It is built around two main features; the manmade lake at McLaren Falls Park and the Wairoa River which was dammed to create it. The lake formed part of the hydropower schemes which saw Tauranga City equipped with electric lights as early as 1915. While electricity generation is still its primary function, the lake is now the centrepiece to a beautifully landscaped area of public space. Made even more picturesque during Autumn.
A favourite place for picnics and water sports.
While wandering around the meandering paths, there is another attraction in the form of aquatic birds, including ducks, shelducks, swans, geese and pukeko.
The polar opposite area of the lake is when the spillway is opened, the water from the Wairoa River escapes from Lake McLaren as a raging torrent as often as not bubbling along with a host of rafts and kayakers thrilling in the adrenalin of a grade 5 white-water ride. Check out it HERE.
The falls and are another section of this diverse park as is the small glowworm grotto, which is only accessible by kayak. The area has some fantastic reflections and myriad of greens.
What could be more natural than a tree? The park has one of the most significant collections in New Zealand of rusty red Cypress trees which are the main autumnal decoration to view as you walk around the park.
My favourite walk by far is the Nikau Palm location, it is undulating and slightly steeper than a lake stroll.
With just a 15 minute drive on SH29 from Tauranga city, McLaren Falls Park is a beautiful spot and an absolute wonderland to explore. Best of all, it won’t cost you to enter and enjoy.
With no entrance fee, no picnic organised there is still a chance to part with a few dollars and replenish spent energy at the McLaren Fall Park Cafe. The cafe is in a peaceful area, not too far from the park’s entrance. A perfect location.
With food that is inspired by fresh seasonal produce and created into delectable eats. Not forgetting a tempting and indulgent array of cakes, slices to satisfy any sweet tooth. Couple that with barista made coffee and there ends a lovely time spent replenishing your energy surrounded by the delights of autumn.