Follow the track that leaves the carpark heading upstream along the Tarawera River. You will reach a bridge crossing over Tarawera River and the track continues upstream until you arrive at the falls viewing area where you can fully appreciate their splendour. Signs at the viewpoint explain the cultural and natural significance of the area.
Back-track to return to the carpark or continue along the tramping track to Tarawera Outlet (approximately another 2 hours one way).
Facilities: A toilet is located at the carpark. There is a viewing area with a seat at the falls.
Access to Tarawera Outlet is from Kawerau township (off SH 30 between Rotorua and Whakatane) via private forestry roads which require permits. A map and directions are avaliable at the Kawerau Information Centre. The forest gate is closed during the hours of darkness. The forest road may be closed in summer when fire risk is high.
Permits cost $5 and must be collected on the day of entering the forest roads from:
Kawerau Information Centre
Plunket St, Kawerau
+64 7 323 6300
Open daily 9am - 4pm (8am - 6pm from December 15th to January 29th)
Also available online on the Kawarau online website.
Nature and conservation
The spectacular Tarawera Falls — where water surges out of fissures in a large rock cliff-face surrounded by native bush. The cliff is the end of an ancient rhyolitic lava flow that is believed to have poured from an erupting Mt Tarawera about 11,000 years ago. An abrupt stop to the flow produced these high cliffs.
Vegetation here has developed since the 1886 Tarawera eruption. Both pohutukawa and rata are found. An unusual feature is the range of hybrids between these two closely related species that occurs in the area. Evidence of this interbreeding can be seen in the variety of different leaf shapes found on the forest floor here.