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It’s been a few weeks since I’ve written anything and it feels to be good back at the keyboard, employing a different type of my creativity. This piece is something that I’ve wanted to write for about nine months, but only edited the photographs recently. And, it’s about more than a very beautiful waterfall, I also got inspired to start using the black castor oil for hair growth and it as done magic.
While we were in Invercargill, there were many times that we set out on day trips and short hikes. I don’t recall how, but we found out about a quaint little waterfall that was tucked into The Catlins. What was intriguing about these falls was the description about how to find it: Drive to The Catlins; on the Chasland Highway, look for the white ice cream carton lid nailed to a board with the word “waterfall” written on it. That’s not exactly the directions that we found, but extremely close – at least the part about the ice cream carton lid. And, lo and behold, we found the trailhead for Koropuku Falls. It turned out that Koropuku Falls was on Department of Conservation land, but the trail was crafted and maintained by thoughtful locals. We’ve hiked on easier trails, but this trail was short and took us to Koropuku Falls straight away. The Falls were pretty and intimate and we had them all to ourselves and enjoyed our lunch. I don’t recall that anyone really got wet, which is a miracle.
While looking over the maps for Koropuku Falls, I also saw a nearby waterfall called Bride’s Veil Falls or Hairora Falls. After our lunch at Koropuku Falls, we drove further down the Chasland Highway and took the turnoff towards Bride’s Veil Falls. A kilometer or two down the road, we came to small group of cottages, the proprietors were sitting out front, and a gate across their road/farm path so that we couldn’t go any farther. We said our hellos and turned around, thinking that we wouldn’t be allowed farther. See, that’s my American way of thinking that was following me along.
When we got back to Invercargill, I returned to my maps and realized that Bride’s Veil Falls (oh, and there are numerous Bride’s Veil Falls in New Zealand) was on Department of Conservation land and that the only way to get close was to go the route that we had taken. And, by this time, I also recalled that the Kiwis are very accommodating about allowing people to traverse their lands to access public lands if you nicely ask. The name of the cottage retreat was still in my mind and I was able to find it through a quick search. When I called the cottages, Dianne answered the phone and I asked if I might pass through her land to visit Bride’s Veil Falls and she gave pleasant and positive reply! Whoopee!
A day or two later, I was approaching Bride’s Veil Falls. The day was cool and gloomy, with the ever present threat of mist and rain. I stopped at Dianne’s & Tony’s home and had a great discussion with Dianne, and thanked her profusely for allowing me to transit their land to get to Bride’s Veil Falls. Dianne was so kind and helpful, and gave me a nice lesson about Kiwis and land access.
Property law in New Zealand and the United States is based on our common ancestor of English law. This doesn’t mean that each country has followed the same exact path as English law, but there is shared history. It’s also useful to recall the role of public walking paths in English history and geography. If you’ve ever had the good fortune to explore rural England, you’ll likely know what I’m talking about. There are public footpaths across England that served as major (foot) transportation routes before the advent of large vehicles (i.e., the automobile). These paths now bisect and border private lands, and landowners permit respectful transit across their land. In the U.S., if we ever had walking paths, it seems that they’ve all been transformed into roads. There are many situations where we are “allowed” to pass through private lands to access public lands, but there is usually a legal instrument (easement) involved.
In a similar vein, water law in the U.S. and New Zealand is based on our common English heritage. Basically, waterways (lakes, rivers and streams) belong to the government, with the idea that they can serve as transportation routes, among other things. In Wisconsin, all “navigable” waters belong to the State up to the “common high water mark.” In New Zealand, the navigable waters belong to the Crown, along with a strip of land on either side. This strip of land might be anywhere from very narrow up to ten meters wide. The ten-meter strips are referred to as the “Queen’s chain.”
The reason for all of this digression is that Dianne and I had a wonderful conversation about the differences between the States and New Zealand regarding accessing public lands via private lands in our two countries. As I explained to Dianne, it’s not too common for a private property owner in the States to permit access to their land, for a variety of reasons. But, in New Zealand, because of the stronger connection back to merry old England, allowing people to transit private lands is sort of expected. And, to be fair to Americans, there are many instances where property owners allow access across their lands so that we can enjoy public lands. (After I wrote my piece about Secret Falls, I learned that there is an easy backdoor way to visit those Falls, and that the nearby private property owner allows it! You just have to know who and where to ask.)
Dianne did share with me a funny story of how these access issues once played out for her and Tony. Some hunters approached her once and told her that since the stream running through their property was considered Crown property that these hunters were going to walk up the stream and on the bank (the Queen’s chain) so that they could get to the public lands beyond Dianne’s and Tony’s private lands and therefore enjoy their hunting rights – and there was nothing that Dianne and Tony could do about it. Dianne and Tony readily agreed with the hunters, and the hunters proceeded to walk (scramble, crawl, slog, curse) up the stream to the public lands and probably back down dragging their quarry. Dianne then told me that if the hunters had been nice and thoughtful, she would have allowed them to drive up their path to the public lands, just like she was allowing me to do to get to Bride’s Veil Falls. ☺
There’s a second lesson in this piece about waterfalls. I suspect that many of you already know this lesson – the Waterfall Beauty Law – but I’ll reiterate it anyway – the beauty of waterfall is directly proportional to how difficult it is to access and view that waterfall. It’s because of this Law that Secret Falls is the most beautiful waterfall in Wisconsin. Similarly, Bride’s Veil Falls in The Catlins is one of the most beautiful waterfalls in New Zealand. There also are several other waterfalls that “fall” (no pun intended) into this category, like Elve’s Chasm in the Grand Canyon.
About a kilometer after Dianne’s and Tony’s cottages, on their paddock path, is the end of the line – you can’t drive any farther. From there, you walk. You can readily hear the stream gurgling on your right and you keep walking upstream. More easily said than done. The first half of the tramp from your car to the Falls is a little difficult making your way through the grass and around the shrubs. There’s not really a trail and you use your common sense. At a point, though, your “path” enters the bush (forest) and you still have to use your common sense. On this grey day, is was kind of dark in the bush, as well as wet and slippery, especially since I was moving uphill towards the Falls. It’s easy to hear the Falls through the bush, but it’s not necessarily easy to walk through the bush to get to them. I do have to write that after this tramp, I was wet and dirty from head to toe from slip sliding through the bush and up and down the hillside.
But, it was all worth it! Bride’s Veil Falls is spectacular in a nice, intimate, moist, slippery, mossy, ferny way. From here, I’ll just let my photographs speak for themselves. The cool, wet, grey day provided some really great conditions to give the Falls some very nice contrast and colors.
43 N MSN signing off…