Karekare Falls in May 2011
As I started thinking back to my New Zealand three years ago, I was trying to remember anything particular special about Karekare Fals. I suddenly remember that I almost gave up on actually visiting Karekare Falls. The drive heading toward the falls is just a tiny bit crazy. Much of it barely more than the width of a single car, so I was constantly paying attention for any cars headed uphill. I made it to the area where Karekare Falls is, and was able to see the falls from afar (which isn’t really that distant from the road).
Trying to find parking, though, was a feat in and of itself. The whole area was extremely popular (and the falls weren’t necessarily the source of all of the popularity), and it was extremely difficult to find anywhere to get out. I couldn’t even find a place to turn around, and ended up continuing along the road for a way, which started narrowing and climbing uphill. I somehow found a place to turn around (which wasn’t easy), and I believe I ended up parking on the side of the road…
From wherever I parked, it wasn’t difficult to get to the falls. I don’t remember how far it was, but it was a short hike. And it’s pretty easy to see the falls. The falls are very nice at about 100′ tall or so. The falls may continue further upstream (and out of view from the base), and may approach 250′ or so. (Don’t quote me on that.) Along my trek, I also found a smaller waterfall slightly further downstream.
- Figure out how to get onto Piha Road (which would head to Piha, an amazingly beautiful place).
- When on Piha Road, turn onto Karekare Road. It’s about 3 km (2 miles) to the “parking” area for the falls.
- From here, you should be able to see the falls (some portion of it). Head toward there, following whatever trail leads to the base.
Accessibility: 9/10 (easy)
Distance of Hike: 0.35 miles round-trip
Height: 82′ (for lowest drop)
A waterfall downstream from Karekare Falls
Where in the World is Karekare Falls?
Kitekite Falls in May 2011
Kitekite Falls is found near one of my favorite places on the planet (up to this point, at least). If I could move anywhere right now, somewhere near Piha Beach would be ideal. I’m not the surfing type, but the views were absolutely amazing, as was the atmosphere. While the area is busy, it also seems isolated enough.
The Waitakere Ranges remind me a lot of Puerto Rico, except they seem…cleaner. I could have explored for days in the area, and really wished that I had stayed somewhere in the area. (Look for lodging near Piha Beach if you’re visiting.) Kitekite Falls is one of the easiest waterfalls to visit in the park. Fairy Falls is also in the park, and while beautiful, does require slightly more hiking that Kitekite Falls. Karekare Falls is very easy to view, but on a busy weekend, can be a pain to park at. Kitekite Falls is just the right mix of easy-to-visit and not-too-crowded.
Even though it doesn’t seem like it from far away, the falls are about 130′ tall (at least not including other smaller drops). The falls are beautiful, to say the least, and the hike to the falls is extremely enjoyable as it climbs upward through the forest. It seems the falls are used for rappelling. On the day I was there, there were 10-15 people rock-climbing up the falls. I’m not sure that I would have done it, though I’m not the biggest fan of heights.
- From Auckland, the main roads tend to become narrower and curvier as you head toward Piha. Before trying to find the falls, set your GPS to get you to Piha. That will provide the best set of directions, as the road system is rather complex.
- You’ll enter Piha on Piha Road, which veers left and turns into Seaview Road. Seaview Road continues on to the beautiful beach, or you can turn right on to Glenesk Road. Glenesk Road takes you Kitekite Falls trailhead.
- There is a carpark at the very end of Glenesk Road. From there, follow the signs to the falls!
Accessibility: 7/10 (easy/moderate, but uphill)
Length of Hike: 2.2 miles round-trip
Where in the World is Kitekite Falls?
Fairy Falls in May 2011
If you head west out of Auckland, you will at some point likely enter the Waitakere Ranges Regional Park. It is definitely worth your time to visit that area, as it is stunningly beautiful. If you continue heading west, you can end up at Piha Beach, which I would visit again in a heartbeat.
In the park, in a slightly different direction from Piha Beach, you can find Fairy Falls. Well, you can find the parking area to Fairy Falls. There is a hike for this one, and I can’t seem to remember whether it was a particularly long hike… It doesn’t seem like it was that long. I remember it taking something like 20-30 minutes (maybe 40 at most) to get to the falls, and that was stopping along the way to take photographs at many of the cascades above the “main” falls. The scenery is amazingly beautiful, and the elevation doesn’t change outrageously for most of the hike, so it’s very enjoyable.
As you proceed further along the hike, stairs appear and lead you further downstream toward the main falls. To get to the base of the falls, you will have to climb a number of stairs. It is well worth it, though.
- Head west from Auckland toward Waitakere Ranges Park. I believe I started on Hillsborough Road, which passes through suburban Auckland.
- At numerous points, the name of the road changes, but just remember to keep heading west.
- In Titirangi, you will choose to head slightly southwest onto Scenic Drive Road. (I believe there are signs indicating Waitakere Ranges Regional Park.)
- Continue along Scenic Drive Road for a significant distance. It’s a winding, curvy journey. Pass the Arataki Visitor’s Centre and continue on.
- The parking area was on the left along Scenic Drive Road (if I remember correctly). Across the road was the start of the trail.
Accessibility: 5/10 (moderate)
Length of Hike: 2.0 miles round-trip
Where in the World is Fairy Falls?