Day 2: Wainui Falls

Ligar Bay

Annie woke up refreshed the next morning. She had had to transfer down in the middle of the night from the top bunk of the bunk beds (or perhaps they were bonk beds; it was difficult to know for sure) because it was too scary to be way up high, alone, in the dark. But on the lower level she had slept very well and woke up ready for the first real day of holiday.

She came in to Mommy and Daddy’s room and climbed into their bed to snuggle. She had brought stuffed animals and toys, enough for everyone to have their own stuffed animal or toy, including Cora Rose. Cora had also come in to cuddle with her parents a little earlier and was currently sleeping.  “I need some covers,” Annie said loudly, sitting down between her parents. They mumbled incoherently but Annie ignored them. They rolled out of her way to avoid getting sat on. Annie wiggled down between them and kicked her feet. Mommy reached over and covered her up with blankets.

Annie told her parents about her dream the previous night. She had dreamt about riding a flying dragon to an island in the north, with Peter Pan. Tinker Bell was riding the dragon too, and so was Wendy. “It was a long dragon,” Annie explained. Mommy thought this was a cool dream.

Eventually they got up out of bed and made some oatmeal for breakfast, and not long after, headed out to have an adventure.

“There’s a vacation waiting for us!” Mommy cried, hurrying everyone out the door.

“There are bars waiting for us!” Annie said excitedly, without further explanation.


The family was off on an expedition to find a waterfall called Wainui Falls, which was supposed to be the most beautiful waterfall in their area. They did okay for the first 5-10 minutes of the trip and then saw a golden sandy beach. The tide was out, and the golden sand seemed to stretch for miles. They all agreed to go explore. They were the only ones at the beach. There was still a little morning chill to the air but the sun was warm on their backs and faces. Annie wore a floppy-brimmed sunhat so she didn’t have to squint. She drew a large oval in the sand and explained it was a necklace for a mermaid. Everyone took off their shoes and socks and felt the warm sand between their toes. Cora sat down in the sand and, without hesitation, put a handful of it into her mouth. Then she started to cry. Annie walked a few paces away, scooped up a very specific handful of sand, carefully carried it another few paces in a different direction, and then poured it out onto another patch of sand. “I’m making a castle,” she announced, and scooped some more sand on top of the castle.

Mommy and Cora ran off together, across the sand, to a river that wound its way along the beach, glistening in the early-morning sunshine. Daddy took pictures and Annie, trying to pretend she didn’t see him, did her best to position herself so her back was facing him.

And then Mommy remembered something. “Uh oh. There might be sandflies here!” she said. Annie ignored her. Daddy looked concerned. He and Mommy had an anxious discussion that Annie likewise ignored.

“Annie, come on, we have to go,” said Mommy urgently. “We’ve heard there are these bugs that bite, and they live on beaches. And it’s terrible if they bite you. You’ll be so itchy. We don’t know what they look like. We don’t know anything about them except they are awful. Come on, Annie!”

“I don’t wanna go,” said Annie, kneeling in the sand and working on her castles.

“I know. I’m sorry. I forgot about it until just now. I brought bug spray but it’s back at the trampoline house. Come on, let’s go find the waterfall.  You don’t want these bugs to bite you.”

Annie continued building her sand castles. She did not see any bugs and saw no necessity for such a precipitous departure.

“Come on, we have to go,” said Mommy.


Annie couldn’t stay grouchy for long after she was forced to leave the beach. Everything was just too exciting. The family drove a bit further down the road and finally reached the path to the waterfall.

The path started straight and wide, down a dirt track, past some electric fences, through some shallow streams. Annie was wearing her rainbow gumboots, so it was easy for her to splash through the water. The sun shone brightly on them all. Annie wore her new sunhat. She talked and sang as they walked. The path became narrower, and wound into a shady forest. Annie started picking up sticks and twigs and carried them along.

“Shh!” Daddy said suddenly, with urgency. Annie, who was singing loudly, continued to sing loudly as she walked down the trail. “Look!” said Daddy, pointing into a tree. “It’s a really big bird! Shh, Annie! Do you see the bird?” The tree’s branches hung over the path. Only a few feet above their heads, a large white-bellied bird with a bright green head sat, watching them.

“Oh wow!” said Mommy. “I wonder what it is! We’ll have to look it up when we get home.”

Annie stopped and looked at the bird. She was mildly interested. She took a few steps closer. Daddy did too. The bird continued to look down at them. It didn’t seem particularly afraid of people. It was surprisingly calm and unafraid, for a rare and elusive mystery bird. Daddy took some pictures. Annie lost interest and walked on down the path. The bird eventually flew away.

Mommy and Daddy later looked up the exotic bird. It was a New Zealand pigeon.

After the encounter with the rare and exotic bird, the forest transformed into a jungle. A wide river met up with them and gurgled quietly along beside the path. Mommy and Daddy passed Cora back and forth as they walked, and Cora obligingly screamed whenever she was handed to her father, because she just wanted to be held by her mother right then. Otherwise, what if her mother disappeared again? She stopped crying when her mother took her, happily listening to her mother muttering about her poor back.

The path initially meandered along flat ground through the jungle, but then started to climb up shallow hills, and then steeper hills. The family scrambled up and up. Annie got tired of climbing and spent more time picking up sticks. Eventually the path flattened out again, but it was narrow, and wound its way along the side of a cliff. To the right was a steep, steep drop, with a river at the bottom of it.

Annie obediently held her mother’s hand and walked on the inside when they were walking along the edge of cliffs. Daddy tried to sound very calm and composed when he asked her to do this, but everyone could sense the underlying anxiety in his voice. Mommy held her hand very tightly.

“We just get worried about you, near the edge,” Mommy explained to Annie. “We don’t want anything to happen to you.”

“Why?” asked Annie. They stopped and looked over the edge, very carefully. “What would happen if I fell off it? Would I die?”

“Maybe,” said Mommy, sounding uncomfortable. Mommy held her hand too tight, so it almost hurt, but Annie didn’t say anything.

The river, which had been clear and quiet at the beginning of the hike, was becoming more and more excitable as they traveled upstream and uphill. First Annie saw some baby waterfalls, and then some big kid waterfalls, and then Mommy and Daddy waterfalls. They were looking for the grandma/grandpa waterfalls, though. And so they continued on. They went across a wobbly bridge, high above the rushing water. Annie stepped onto the bridge and immediately started jumping up and down.

“Don’t do that!” Mommy cried.

“Why not?”

“We have to be careful,” Mommy said. “When we go over this bridge, we have to walk, not run, not skip, not try to balance on anything. No jumping. Just walk carefully over the bridge, to be safe.”

Annie did her best. At one point she accidentally tried to balance on the low rail on the edge of the bridge, but when Mommy reminded her, she went back to walking.


Cora had gotten tired from excessive yelling at her father. She had fallen asleep. She had then been zipped up into her father’s sweatshirt, which was very cozy.


And then, finally, they reached it. 

“Wow!” said Mommy. “Is that a grandpa waterfall, Annie? Or maybe a great-grandpa waterfall?”

“It’s a big grandpa,” said Annie, squinting up at the water that thundered down. It was hard to look at the waterfall because of the cool mist that blew into your face. And they had to talk loudly to be heard over the noise of the water crashing down. Annie gave it another quick look and then turned to leave.

“Wait!” said Mommy. “Let’s just look for a few minutes, okay? We could take pictures?”

Annie had already started walking back the way they came. Mommy ran after her and dragged her back, unwilling.

Cora woke up when they reached the waterfall. Perhaps it was the noise of the falls, or perhaps she sensed that they had reached their destination. She was fascinated. She stared at the thundering waterfall in silent awe.

“Look over here, Cora! Cora!” her mother and father said, trying to get her to look at a camera. Cora ignored them. The waterfall was so interesting. She had never seen anything like it. Mommy had to force her to look away, to look at the camera. But she and her big sister were on the same page: photos were stupid.


The family ended their day at a little outdoor restaurant tucked away up high in the mountains. They had followed handpainted signs promising pizza and cold beer, and were rewarded with the promised pizza and beer, along with sunshine and gardens and a chalkboard easel that Annie could draw on, and plastic chairs that Annie could gather up and then line up in the grass to make a train.

Cora was also very happy. She crawled around in the grass, checking up on her mother frequently (you just never knew… that mother was not to be trusted…), and looking for things to put in her mouth. She found some chalk, which was ideal for eating, because it upset both her parents and her sister. She liked to hold it up to show to her mother, flash a big smile, and then shove it into her mouth as quickly as she could.

1 thought on “Day 2: Wainui Falls”

  1. Pingback: Ligar Bay: A Week in Paradise – Year in New Zealand

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