|The Sunday Star 20.05.2001
Discovering a hideaway at Hokianga Harbour
by Antony Phillips
|If it wasn't for Tony Stockman's tip, we would never have heard of a
bold new eco-tourism venture in the Wairere Valley near Horeke. Swiss
couple Felix and Rita Schaad laboured for three years to build walking
tracks, bridges and viewing platforms through a valley strewn with 2.8
million-year-old gigantic boulders with spectacular markings called
fluting. Thousand of boulders are stacked on top of each other,
like a stream of rock frozen as it flowed towards the sea. Iyt is
remarkable that this 1 1/4 km mass of basalt boulders, many bigger than
houses has been hidden for so many years. The Schaads' Wairere Boulder
Reserve officially opens this summer.
The bush-fringed walk and views from the platforms and bridges are astounding and so is the fact the Schaads built this single-handedly. Rita had to secure Felix -a civil engineer- with ropes while he built bridges over life-threatening drops.
Fluting in the volcanic boulders is the result of chemical leaching by the acid soils of kauri forest that used to grow here. The Schaads bought the valley in 1983. Nobody else was interested. "In 1984 we built walkways for ourselves and friends to be able to stroll through the subtropical bush," says Felix. "But it was always our wish that more people could enjoy the stunning site."