Having been at the source of the Waikato River yesterday, I decided today to journey to its mouth, i.e. Port Waikato. After getting a little bit lost at Pukekohe, I eventually made it to the right road. Getting there even involved crossing the Waikato River over a bridge that looks not unlike the Fairfield Bridge in Hamilton. It’s got the same humpty dumpty curves, but it’s painted white.
A few kilometres later I was driving along a winding road that followed the river. By this stage the river was wide and low. The water was a dark, murky grey. It seemed hard to believe that the clear clean water I saw washing the shores of Lake Taupo or the clear blue water churning over the rocks at Huka Falls was the same sludgy grey water slowly making its way to the ocean.
I found a beach that reminded me of Muriwai beach. It was really long and had the kind of stark rawness that west coast beaches seem to have. I walked along the beach until I reached the mouth of the river. There wasn’t much to see. Just a bunch of water, and some more water. I took a few photos and headed back.
Taupo seems so much more exciting and alive. It’s a small town, a few hours from the nearest city, and there doesn’t seem to be much to do, but there is the lake, a huge mass of clear water that’s freshly flowed down from the mountains.
By the time the water reaches Port Waikato it’s had all sorts of crap done to it. It’s been through dams, had animal poo and fertiliser wash into it, it’s been sucked up and filtered and drank, then wee-ed out, treated and piped back in, boats, jet skis and rubber tires have floated down it, McDonalds wrappers have been thrown off the Claudelands bridge into it by drunk people on their way home from the pub, it’s been spat in, swam in and driven over, and there is it blessing the small settlement of Port Waikato with its greyness before finally escaping the land and entering the ocean.
I’d gladly return to Taupo, but Port Waikato just seemed too creepy to make me want to come back.