We’ll let you in on a little secret here, so long as you promise not to let it go any further.
It’s a secret jealously guarded by the close-knit, boogie-boarding fraternity of Eastland who, when they’re done frolicking in the surf at Wainui Beach (or on the rare days where Wainui is serving nothing but mush), will load their boards and a picnic lunch in the boots of their HQ Holdens and head for the hills, travelling west on the Wharekopae Road, checking their mirrors every now and then to make sure they’re not being followed.
Their destination lies 50 kilometres along this road, under the shadow of Ngatapa, the site of a hill fortress constructed by the warrior chief, Te Kooti Rikirangi te Turuki, during his insurgency in the 1860s.
It’s a little reserve that incorporates the Rere Falls on the Wharekopae River, with a grassy picnic area complete with toilets alongside the river.
The Rere Falls are pretty, but you don’t see the boarders wasting too much time looking them over. They’re more interested in something upstream. For a little way up the stony riverbed, you’ll find the Rere Rock Slide, a 60-metre tract of slick rock, made slippery by the swift, shallow water flowing over it.
Throw yourself onto your belly on your boogie-board at the top of the slide and hang on for an exhilarating, wet and wild ride to the bottom. It’s not steep, but what it lacks in gradient it also lacks in friction. You’ll be flying — just make sure you stop short of the falls.
If you don’t have a boogie-board, you’d do well to take an inflatable mattress or inner tube or similar, and even then, there’s a limit to how many times you can bash your body down the slide in a single session. Subtle undulations in the rock deliver a stringent massage, and you’ll be feeling it after a few runs. But you don’t have to be an extreme sports fanatic to shoot the slide and love it.
If, however, it does seem just too gnarly for all in your party, you can pack the frail and faint of heart off to the Eastwood Arboretum, an extraordinary, privately established botanical museum that features the largest collection of exotic trees in New Zealand.
When everyone meets up afterwards to compare notes, it’ll be hard to decide who had the better time.