Bridge over Wairere Falls.
Image: Tahu Taylor-Koolen ©
The falls can be seen from the Te Aroha-Okauia Road and are signposted from the Goodwin Road turnoff. In spring, watch out for the apricot coloured flowers of the taurepo or sandpaper plant on the rocky valley walls.
From the carpark a well formed track weaves its way through moss covered rocks and tree roots. It meets up with the river and bridges assist with river crossings. There is a steady climb up the base of the cliff where sets of steps lead to the top of the gorge. The track passes through a grove of nīkau, pūriri and kohekohe before leading to a lookout platform with a spectacular view looking from the base of the falls. The falls drop 153 m over the steep escarpment, which is part of the Okauia fault line.
The track climbs further with plenty of steps and staircases in the steep section. At the top of the hill the track winds through a rich mosaic of forest species with tawa. The track then branches to the falls lookout. From this point the return tramp to the lookout will take you 2 hours. There is a magnificent view looking back over the valley and the Waikato Plains.
Over the summer there are plenty of pools to paddle in and the track can be explored further upriver.
Return via the same track.
Alternative route (tramping track)
From the top of the falls take the Wairere Track east to the North South Track. This section is not as well maintained as the climb to Wairere Falls.
Wairere Falls Track is on Goodwin Road off Te Aroha-Okauia road, south of Te Aroha.
Nature and conservation
The Wairere Falls track takes walkers through a beautiful, diverse range of natural scenery. Besides the spectacular 153 m high falls there are beautiful river falls and cascades, a fine grove of nīkau, pūriri and kohekohe, and an upper section of track takes you through tree ferns and totara in native forest.
Know before you go
You need to be well prepared when tramping on conservation land, especially on the longer day walks. Ensure you have strong, comfortable boots, warm clothing, a good raincoat, first aid kit, food and drink, a hat and sunscreen.
Before you go into the outdoors, tell someone your plans and leave a date to raise the alarm if you haven't returned. To do this, use the New Zealand Outdoors Intentions process on the AdventureSmart website. It is endorsed by New Zealand's search and rescue agencies and provides three simple options to tell someone you trust the details about your trip.
Consult a topographic map.
Mountain biking is not permitted.