Driving north from Auckland, it took only minor detours to see incredible waterfalls. It didn’t take long to remind us that New Zealand landscape is some of the most vibrant and dramatic in the world. It’s not just the South Island that one must visit for the natural beauty one expects to see in New Zealand. We took our time as we headed to the top of the North Island.
Today, I am sharing photos of four spectacular waterfalls we saw within 150 kilometres of each other. The first two on the page were new for me, the other two I had seen before.
Located in the Whangarei Scenic Reserve on the Hatea River, Whangarei Falls can practically be viewed from the carpark. Falling 26 metres, the glistening water leads to a popular local’s swimming hole. The 30-minute loop walking track around the falls has two bridges and takes you down to the base for a different view of this cascading curtain fall. It was the river gently flowing away that caught my eye.
To find this hidden gem located north of the Brynderwyns, we drove 7km on the unpaved Waipu Road. From the trailhead marker we followed a 10-minute, mostly downhill walk through lush native forest. I could hear the water cascading over the 20m cliff before we saw it. Located on the Ahuroa River, Piroa Falls turned out to be my favorite of the day. We were surprised to find a concrete table nearby, and wondered how it got there.Piroa Falls are a 20 minute drive from Waipu Cave, but we didn’t know about it when we hiked there last year.
This may the shortest of the waterfalls, but its roaring waters can be heard from quite a distance. Located on the Waitangi River, the base of the falls is the waters that my niece jumped into two years ago. It’s easy to find, just past Pahia on SH11 You can hike from here to the Waitangi Treaty Grounds, or head the other way to the Bay of Islands.
Located just 20 minutes north of Haruru Falls (following the Twin Coast Discovery route towards Kerikeri), I am not sure why so many tourists skip the 27m drop of Rainbow Falls. It is the tallest of the four waterfalls we saw. I observed it from the lookout, but didn’t make it to the base. I was intimidated by a bee hive and the huge number of bees circling in the tree, and I had been to Rainbow Falls before. Fortunately no one else in our group was bothered by the bees, and Sarah had her camera too.
Our group included the family and a friend:
Map of the four waterfalls on this page:
- There are facilities at Whangarei Falls, but not at any of the other waterfalls listed here.
- Bring insect repellent, sun screen, and a light jacket. The weather is quick to change, and it is often cooler in the forest, a nice treat in the summer.
- Bring togs and towels if you might want to swim at some of these locations.
- If you are traveling to the top of the North Island and returning on the same route, you may want to split your visit, seeing two waterfalls on the way up, and the other two on the way back (this is actually what we did).
***This is a smaller portion of a 4-5 day itinerary around the top of the North Island.***
Have you seen any of these Northland waterfalls? Do you have a favorite?
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