Hamurana Springs put a spring in our step in New Zealand
On our last day in Rotorua, New Zealand, there was ample time to enjoy the morning at a leisurely pace before setting off for our next destination, Tauranga. Our hosts at Panorama Country Homestay recommended a visit to nearby Hamurana Springs for a morning amble.
Gazing across Lake Rotorua before breakfast, we had no idea of the disturbing news soon to hit our ears. A 7.8 magnitude earthquake had rocked the South Island affecting areas between Christchurch north to Wellington. The ferry docks had been damaged, tunnels and roads had been demolished, and there were a couple of fatalities. Bob and I hoped that it wouldn’t impact our travel to the South Island a few days hence.
To calm our nerves, a quiet walk was just what we needed. A short drive along the shore of Lake Rotorua conveyed us to Hamurana Springs Recreation Reserve, a protected area of natural springs on the north side of the lake.
The Reserve is made up of the Hamurana Stream, a scenic walking track through a Redwood Grove, the head spring Te Puna-a-Hangarua, and the Dancing Sands Spring.
A sturdy wooden bridge across Hamurana Stream conveyed us to the start of the path. A looped trail follows the contours of the stream to the springs and returns on the opposite bank to the trailhead.
Right off the bat, Bob and I were delighted to observe some waterfowl that were making good use of Hamurana Stream. A pair of Black Swans floated lazily on the icy cold water that originates from the spring.
Flowing for approximately one kilometre through the Reserve, Hamurana Stream is home to rainbow trout that prefer the chilly temperature of the water during the summer months. Bob and I were happy to espy several good-sized Rainbow Trout idling above the stony bottom of the stream.
We were really taken with the quality of the spring water. It is crystal clear and reflects myriad shades of turquoise, jade and emerald. The appearance is reminiscent of mountain lakes that we have seen in British Columbia, Canada.
Walking through the lush, untouched landscape, Bob and I soon found ourselves entering the grove of 100-year-old Redwood Trees. The trees towering overhead had us in awe.
Native to the Pacific Coast of North America, Redwood Trees can achieve a height of 100 metres with a diameter of 5 metres.
Waiariki is the traditional name for the Redwood Grove at Hamurana Springs. The Redwood Trees growing here were planted in 1919.
Small in comparison to those much older, the Redwood Trees at Hamurana Springs Recreation Reserve are a mere 55 metres tall with a girth of 2 metres.
The oldest Redwood Trees in North America are as old as 2200 years. Those at Hamurana Springs are a little more than 100 years old. Redwood Trees are the fastest growing conifers in the world.
Flowing gently but constantly, Hamurana Stream courses downstream and empties into Lake Rotorua. Through a complicated route, its waters eventually find their way to the Pacific Ocean at Waketu, the location where canoes, arawa waka, first hit the shores of New Zealand.
In the solitude of Hamurana Springs Recreation Reserve, Bob and I soaked up the soothing sounds of the stream, the breeze whispering in the tops of the Redwoods. All grew quiet when we found ourselves at the headspring, Hangarua.
Peering over the side of a wooden observation platform gave me an eerie feeling. Hangarua Spring is 50 feet below the surface. A small cleft in the volcanic rock gave us a glimpse into the depths from which 4 million litres of crystal clear water bubbles to the surface every hour of every day.
Water for the spring originates on the Mamaku Plateau west of Rotorua. Following a series of underground aquifers, the water requires 70 years to find its way to the surface at Hamurana. Being filtered in the process, the water is pristine and at a constant temperature of 10 Celsius when it first sees the light of day.
Hangarua Spring is named after a tribal chieftainess. It is called Te Puna-a-Hangarua, meaning The Fountain-at-Hangarua.
A little further along the forest trail, we beheld an unusual sight that soon explained the name of the next spring, Dancing Sands Spring.
Through the shallow water, Bob and I could see puffs of sand where the spring water bubbles to the surface.
Lifting the white and black grains of sand above the spring, the water creates mini fountains of tiny rock particles.
Dancing Sands Spring is relatively shallow allowing the fine pieces of rocks and minerals to glitter in the sunlight. It is a really neat phenomenon.
Leaving Dancing Sands Spring behind, it was some forest creatures that held our attention as we meandered back along Hamurana Stream towards the car park.
The chattering of a European Greenfinch drew our eyes into the tree canopy. Keeping it company was a New Zealand Gray Fantail with its tail feathers splayed in the characteristic fan.
Next to Hamurana Stream, near the parking lot, were a number of European Goldfinches.
As well, a pair of Graylag Geese nibbled the tender blades of grass, bowing in unison as if to bid us adieu. Bob and I thoroughly enjoyed our walkabout. Though only about a mile in total length, the tranquility of this unique location soothed our concerns about what lay ahead of us on the South Island.