Te Waihou - The Blue Springs

Te Waihou Walkway

Time:   1 hr 30 min one way
Distance:   4.7 km (one way) plus 0.5 km loop track
The walkway ranges from easy walking to steeper areas in places with stiles and steps, with boardwalk/wobbly walks constructed through wetland areas. A loop track provides views over a stunning area of the river and access to the northern bank via two footbridges.
The walk goes through areas of restoration and regeneration of wetland and native plantings, and crosses rolling pastoral land beside the river. Small waterfalls set amongst native bush add to the area's scenic beauty, and trout are plentiful.
Getting there
Linking State Highway 1 and 5 in the South Waiakto is Whites Road. Te Waihou Walkway is situated off Whites Road with upstream access from Leslie Road, Putaruru.
About the area
Blue Spring, Waihou River
The history of the Waihou River, as a multi purpose focus for the people of the region, dates back to the time of the first human visitors. The river comes from as far up as the Ngatira Marae, which significantly marks the Eastern boundary of "Raukawa Ki Te Kaokaoroa o Patetere" and therefore the Northern boundary of the Ngati Raukawa.

It was a journeying place of King Te Wherowhero Tawhiao, the second Maori King of New Zealand, as it provided him with his main travelling route. The river gave him food and the flax was used for many purposes. Also, Kahupeka, a Tainui tupuna, set off with her son shortly after her husband's death to wander around the Central North Island. On her travels, the Upper Waihou River was one of the main rivers that she and her son crossed while travelling from Pirongia to Te Aroha, and again from Te Aroha to Whakamaru.

Moving on to later years, the Edmeades family settled and began to farm the land along the Upper Waihou River in 1938. At this stage the river area was heavily covered with fern and ti tree, which was eventually cleared. During these early days, war trenches were dug along the Upper Waihou River as a result of the war scare, but were covered in without ever being used.

The Waihou Stream is totally spring fed. Water from the Mamaku Plateau takes anywhere from 50-100 years to reach the Blue Spring. Water flows from the spring at a rate of 42 cubic metres per minute (9240 gallons per minute). The water temperature of the Blue Spring is a constant 11 degrees celsius throughout the year.

The reason for the blue colour (and high visual clarity) of the Waihou River and its spring source is the high optical purity of the water. Pure water is intrinsically blue in hue because it absorbs red light leaving only blue and (some) green light to be transmitted to the observer's eye. Pure natural waters are blue to blue-green in colour because they lack light absorbing constituents and particles. Both particles and light-absorbing matter are efficiently removed during the long settlement time of spring water while in aquifers.