Hometown haunts and habitats: a brown river
Without question there are far more beautiful rivers in NZ. Up here there are no glaciers to feed the waterways. Don’t be put off by the colour though – the perpetually muddy Kaipara River has its own beauty and character.
It’s an icon of the region thanks to the radical twisting and turning as it winds its way from hills to the south into the Kaipara Harbour. The river levels, in their sediment-rich brownness, rise and fall with the harbour tide. At low tide, the muddy banks and mangrove roots are exposed.
I’ve never been a fan of mangroves, but coastal ecology and all that.
Along one stretch of the river sits the pioneer town Helensville. It was established in the days when kauri was king, becoming one of two big shipping ports servicing the harbour. This was also the era of passenger steamships. However, when the kauri forests finally dwindled, and with the arrival of the railway, the need for the port diminished.
Remnants of these times can be seen, thanks in part to a riverside walkway. Today the river is the domain of tour cruises and fishing boats.
I may be from these parts but I’ve never been on the river. One of these days I need to do something about that.