Ford Creek is an unremarkable creek flowing from the Paparoa Range along the southern edge of the Blackball plateau. A banal nthe product of centuries of flowing water,ame. There is no record of a Mr Ford, so perhaps it simply had a ford over it at some stage. But over the centuries it has carved out a canyon from an area of sandstone between the road to Roa and the Community House. The path down to the creek from the bridge had become overgrown so I spend an hour cutting out a new track through the gorse and blackberry.
That evening granddaughter Lily and I venture down the track to the creek bed, where the water suddenly becomes volatile as it hits the sandstone rocks and the channel narrows, forming miniature waterfalls, sudden deep holes, the walls of the gorge rising, black and bronze, ferns and moss and beech trees above, remnants of fallen trees below, the product of centuries of flowing water… We begin to wade and swim through the gorge. With the elements of danger and isolation it becomes a rebirthing experience. Will we be able to get back to our towels and bikes or are we headed to an unknown space? Further on, old mine debris litters the creek, bolts and broken wheels and rails, brown and rusted, but now well embedded flotsam, signifying a moment in time – that is all – another human folly.
But then there is a hole in the bank from which sulphurous mine water constantly gushes, water which makes the stream barren from here on. Could it be stopped? Or is it a moment of human folly unable to be undone? But it is evening, the landscape mellows and we are getting cold.
Now we clamber back, swimming through the channels and pools finding a way up the small waterfall, no easy task for an old man, but still possible. To our towels and dry clothes, then up the rough path into a world of health and safety.
As we bike home I realise this gorge needs a decent name. Awa Kuiti (narrow gorge)? Wai Hurihuri (swirling water)? Wai Tapahi Ara (water cutting a path)? Tokanui (big rocks)? Whanau Hōu (rebirth)? While I am tempted by the last, perhaps Wai Hurihuri will do.