Kakahi Falls, New Zealand

Kakahi Falls may not be one of those waterfalls that you go out of your way to see just for a waterfall. It’s honestly more of a bonus to an already cool experience. Kakahi Falls is found in Hell’s Gate Geothermal Park near Rotorua. Rotorua is widely known for it’s geothermal activity, including geysers (which I regret that I didn’t see). It’s very similar to Yellowstone National Park and to some of the features in Iceland.

It’s rather easy to get to Kakahi Falls since it’s along the main walking route in the park. To get to many of the other features such as the mud baths, you will pass by the falls. It may not look like the best picture below, but that’s because the water is steaming! The water flowing over Kakahi Falls has not long before been heated underground. I’m not sure how much more water will be flowing over the falls even on a rainy day as evidence by the way the rocks have been carved by the water.

Directions:

  1. From Rotorua, head northeast on highway 30.
  2. At the junction of highways 30 and 33, continue on 30.
  3. The entrance to your park will be on the left of the road after just a few miles/kilometers.
  4. Park and pay the entrance fee to the park. (As of 2018, it’s NZ$35.)
  5. Start your journey. You’ll find the falls along the designated loop. I believe there was a sign.

There are a few other waterfalls just north off of highway 30: Tutea Falls and Trout Pond Falls. I didn’t visit them, and I don’t know why. (It gives me an excuse to go back.)

Accessibility: 10/10 (easy)
Height: ~15′ (one site online says 40’…if this is true, there’s much more to these falls than I can see)
Length of Hike: 0.6 miles round-trip (just to the falls)

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Kakahi Falls in May 2011

Where in the World is Kakahi Falls?

Bridal Veil Falls, New Zealand

Bridal Veil Falls in May 2011

The North Island of New Zealand has a number of really great waterfalls. Wairere Falls and Marokopa Falls are impressive, and Bridal Veil Falls is another to add to the list.

At 180′ tall, Bridal Veil Falls has many things going for it. In addition to its height, it’s also surrounded by lush greenery. You also have a number of different options for viewing the falls. There’s not really a great view at the base, but as you start walking down the trail (which I think has stairs), you’ll start getting a better view. The picture here is from a third to half way down the trail. You’ll also get a great view from the base, and a bridge leads over the river. The waterfall was relatively powerful, so you’ll experience a lot of spray at the base.

Directions:

  1. From NZ-39 at Whatawhata, head west along NZ-23 for just over 26 kilometers.
  2. Turn left onto Te Mata Road and drive for about 7 km.
  3. Take a left turn to continue on Te Mata Road for 2.5 km more.
  4. Take a slight left onto Kawhia Road and drive for 3.5 km. You’ll see a sign for Bridal Veil Falls and a parking area.

Accessibility: 7/10 (easy/moderate, some stairs)
Height: 180′
Length of Hike: 0.8 miles round-trip

Where in the World is Bridal Veil Falls?

Kitekite Falls, New Zealand

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.

Directions:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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)
Height: 131′
Length of Hike: 2.2 miles round-trip

Where in the World is Kitekite Falls?

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.

Directions:

  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?

Marokopa Falls, New Zealand

The popular tall waterfalls are on the South Island of New Zealand.  The North Island has got its impressive waterfalls, too.  Marokopa Falls is much wider than any of the falls I saw on the South Island.  It’s not as tall, though, so I guess to some that may be disappointing?  Not to me!

Getting to the falls is a beautiful journey.  I did have some interesting travels down very isolated dirt roads, but in the end, I got to the falls.  There is an “easier” way to get to the falls, but it doesn’t as easily connect Marokopa Falls to Bridal Veil Falls, which is not that far away as the crow flies, but more distant driving-wise.  Once you get to the parking lot for the falls, it’s only a short walk down to the viewpoint.  At the viewpoint, you might try and getting to the base.  I decided against this not because of danger, but instead because it was one of the muddiest descents I have seen in a while.  I’m not opposed to getting muddy, but this was just a little too much!  At the time, the spray was intense, even from a few hundred feet away!

Directions:

  1. From NZ-3, head west on Waitomo Caves Rd (aka NZ-37).
  2. NZ-37 turns into Te Anga Road after going through a roundabout a short distance from the Waitomo Caves.
  3. Head some distance further to the parking area for the falls, which will be on your left.  Along the way, you will have passed some other interesting points, including the Mangapohue Natural Bridge, along with a cave (that I can’t remember the name of) that was free to visit, but surprisingly dark and creepy.

Accessibility: 9/10 (easy)
Height: 98′
Length of Hike: 0.4 miles round-trip

Marokopa Falls in May 2011

Where in the World is Marokopa Falls?

Unnamed Falls, Waikato Region, New Zealand

Unnamed Falls in May 2011

I’m not really sure how to describe this waterfall, considering I don’t really know it’s exact location. I was driving from Bridal Veil Falls (40 minutes from Hamilton) to Marokopa Falls. My GPS took me along some long stretches of unpaved road. I finally got onto some paved (sealed) road in farmland, and out of the corner of my eye, saw this small waterfall plunging to the left of me. I really couldn’t stop right there, so I turned around (which can be difficult on these winding roads). I zoomed in to the falls while stopped on the road for a few seconds. It’s not a very busy road, but if you can find another place to pull of for just a second, that might be the best option. That is if you can find the falls?

Directions: Well…It’s on a paved road somewhere between Bridal Veil Falls and Marokopa Falls. Along the way, I believe I took Kawhia Rd. to Harbor Rd., then Te Wairere Road to get to Marokopa Falls. It might have been off of one of those roads?

Accessibility: 10/10 (easy)
Height: ~40′
Length of Hike: roadside

Where in the World is Unnamed Falls?