Wairere Falls, New Zealand

Wairere Falls in May 2011

Wairere Falls is a very impressive waterfall on the North Island that requires some effort to visit, though I guess you could cheat! If you’ve been paying close attention as you approach the parking area to the falls, you should notice the upper portion of the waterfall in plain sight. You don’t see the lower portion of the falls, but if you just wanted to get a glimpse, you don’t even have to hike. But what would be the fun in that?

The hike to the falls is not easy, but as usual, it’s all in the eye of the beholders. I’ve been on hikes that are much more strenuous than this one, but you will still feel out of breath at the end, and you’ll like be sweating up a storm. The first half of the hike only took me about 20 minutes, and is actually rather flat. The second half is where you begin to climb uphill. Pace yourself, and definitely bring something to drink. There are a lot of stairs to climb. Seeing the falls from afar in the parking area gives the sense that you’re not that far away, but in reality, due to all of the winding, you are more distant than you think. The second half still only took about 25-30 minutes.

Once you’re there, enjoy the falls! There was a unique smell associated with the falls, and it was very cool to watch the intense wind blow parts of the falls back upward. Once you are done, you can be consoled in the fact that the downward return is nowhere near as strenuous. Along the way up or down, you may want to spend some time with the very interesting cascades below the falls along the creek. At high flow, these cascades can be very photogenic.


  1. As usual, there are many different ways to arrive at the falls. I came from Rotorua, and so these are the general directions I took, at least from NZ state highway 29.
  2. From NZ-29 head north on Tauranga Road (aka NZ-24).
  3. After a few miles, you’ll come to Old Te Aroha Road. Take a right onto Old Te Aroha Road instead of continuing on NZ-24.
  4. After 10-12 miles (very approximate), you’ll come to Goodwin Road on your right. Take a sharp right onto Goowdin Road. I think there might be a sign there indicating Wairere Falls.
  5. Head to the very end of Goodwin Road to the parking area.
  6. From there, it’s pretty self explanatory. You can extend the hike to the top of the falls if you wish.

Accessibility: 4/10 (moderate)
Height: 502′
Length of Hike: 3.1 miles round-trip

One of the scenic lower drops

Where in the World is Wairere Falls?


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