The meaning of “trail” as referenced in Dictionary.com is a path or track made across a wild region, over rough country, or the like, by the passage of people or animals.
Now I have admitted on many occasions that I am a couch potato, the only exercise I had been doing prior to April the 13th 2014 was walking to the coffee table to grab the remote control then sitting back down on the couch with the remote control in my hot little hands anticipating another day sitting in front of the television set.
Then that all changed thanks to Sport Bay of Plenty, Department of Conservation and Lake Tarawera Water Taxi and Eco Tours organising a walk of the Tarawera Trail, silly old me thought it would be a great opportunity to get out of my comfort zone and join them, so I did, without reading or understanding the actual definition of what a trail is.
Forty of us, set forth across from The Landing at Lake Tarawera to Hot Water Beach on the Water Taxi. I happened to know one of the families that had joined us and I remember being so surprised when as soon as they touched the shore, they were immediately changed into swimming gear and making use of the geothermal swimming area. I thought, gee, they were making a day of it because they had a four to five hour walk to complete before they would reach their car to drive home, so I felt they should not be dallying around swimming.
I noted that I was walking with some serious walkers, they had poles, they had walking shoes, and they had water bladders. I felt a little bit concerned; I had no poles, no walking shoes and no water bladder. Oh well, I was sure that it was not going to be that difficult. Message to myself, pre warned is pre armed.
Starting from Hot Water Beach, you quickly meet the steepest climb of the walk- according to the map which shows a graph of the highs and lows of the walk. Thankfully Margaret from the Department of Conservation was the one responsible for the stragglers left at the back of the pack. I will be honest to say there was not stragglers but one straggler, me. Struggling up that rise, with Margaret’s walking pole in my hand, I was sucking through my water in my bottle very quickly. 750 mls of water disappears rather fast when you are sweating it out like I was. I was able to get my bottle refilled at Twin Streams by a young man who seemed to not mind having to help out middle aged me.
There were gorgeous expansive views of Lake Tarawera and the Tarawera Mountain. On the whole, it is a good solid track. There was obvious evidence of damage from the blustery and wet conditions from a few weeks before in some places which just meant you had to tread more carefully. The stairs and railings would be the envy of any fine furniture maker. Some of the vividly coloured fungi and extensive puffy cloud like coverage of ground moss would have the most experienced Botanist salivating at such finds.
Back to reality, because just as you are about to finish the trail, you get hit with another steep climb and that is when motivational Margaret, the DOC worker I mentioned earlier, comes into her element. If you have a choice between quitting and taking a rescue helicopter basket out of there or staying with Margaret and completing the trail, go with Margaret, each and every time.
I completed the Trail in 5 1/2 hours, the friends I had questioned in my mind about swimming at Hot Water Beach before they even started the walk passed me by at the Hawaiiki Bay amenity area. Will I do it again? Heck yes. I've got to now start at the Trail Car Park and walk in to Hot Water Beach. Then I'll be able to experience that soothing geothermal soak to ease away any soreness in my muscles before I hop on the Lake Tarawera Water Taxi and come home.
For further information about the Tarawera Trail, go to our website http://ecotoursrotorua.co.nz/eco-tours/tarawera-trail/