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The Riwaka Resurgence

When I first heard about this place, I thought people were having me on. The name is so exotic, so much like an ancient battle or political movement. And I couldn't find it shown on any maps. But it is real and it's a wonderful step into an other world, away from the bustle of daily life.

The Resurgence is where the northern branch of the Riwaka River emerges from the depths of the Takaka Hill and starts its final 15km or so journey to the sea. The water constantly spilling into the light of day has run within limestone cracks and passages from around the top of the hill, and it comes out just as pure as the crystal clear waters of the better-kinown Pupu Springs.

It's easily accessible by car or bike. From the shops in Riwaka village, travelling north-west on SH60 toward Takaka, it's a 5km drive to get to the start of the climb over "The Hill". Just before that climb the road splits in two, with the signposted road to the Resurgence off to the left. From there it's another 7km along a gently winding but easy, flat road to the park beside the start of the Resurgence walk.

Enjoy the drive along this road, and take your time. After a few kms of orchard properties, you move into mainly native, West Coast-like bush with a few farmlets, all the way tracking the bubbling Riwaka River on your left. There is one split in the road along the way - follow the right-hand road. And you certainly cannot go too far: just when it looks like you're about to run into the dead end formed by the tall mountain walls at the top of the valley, the car park and picnic area opens out.

The open area is large enough for many family groups and to kick around a soccer ball or play french cricket. There is a modern toilet block and picnic tables. And at the top end is the entrance to the 15-minute return stroll to the actual Resurgence. The entrance is marked by a fine gateway constructed by local iwi.

The walk in is easy, although the final short section involves climbing beautifully crafted and engineered steps made of on-site marble and karst - a lot of time and care went into making this section. In cooler, moist weather these stones may be a bit slippery so take your time.

Along the way, pause at the marvellous Crystal Pool to the left of the track. (Here's a short video of the pool on YouTube). It's contained by huge rocks of all shapes, some smooth and some jagged. The crystal-clear acquamarine pool lends a beautiful touch and helps show just how deep it must be down there. And we're told (not confirmed by us on this cool autumnal day) that the water is also very, very cold. But in summer many a child (and brave adult) has been known to take the adrenelin-pumping plunge from surrounding rock ledges. We're also told that trout can be seen and caught here.

A couple of minutes further on you arrive at the place where the water emerges from the hill via a cave and deep, clear pool. It's definitely cool in this ravine-like cul de sac, with the foot of the Takaka Hill towering above and even more huge marble boulders beside the stream, showing how perhaps thousands of years ago they had tumbled down from the hill face. The pungas here and along the track are very large - mostly 5 to 7 metres high, and there are a number of tall, ancient totara and other forest giants all around.

As the information board tells us, this place is of particular cultural significance to the people of Te Atiawa and Ngati Rarua, who recognise Te Puna o Riuwaka as wahi tapu, a sacred place. Treat it with respect by looking in awe at the strength and depth of the structure, the purity of the water and the moss-covered slabs of marble shaping the river as it begins its course.

This destination for most people will be better in summer. The walk is not long enough to raise the pulse rate, and in winter it's very cool and damp along the track because the sun rarely makes it into the deep fold in the mountain. Last night's frost or dew doesn't readily dry. If you're not equipped with picnic gear and warm clothing, your stay here is likely to be on the short side.

But in warmer months, when the sun gets high enough to enter the valley, the picnic spots, play areas, and short walks around tumbling water and adventure-sized rocks makes this a superb place to get away from it all and glimpse New Zealand the way it was thousands of years ago.

Picnic / play area

Entrance to the walk

Two spots along the way (above and left)

The Resurgence cave and pool from
the viewing platform

Downstream from the cave

The Crystal Pool



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