Waitomo to Marokopa short walks
Track numbers relate to the map below.
Opapaka Pa (#1)
Time: 20 min one way
Distance: 1 km one way
This walk takes you through native forest and up a steep farm track to a pa site with kumara pits. See Opapaka Pa walk for more detail.
Waitomo Caves car park walk (#3)
Time: 5 -10 min one way
Distance: 500 m one way
An easy pushchair-friendly walk that starts as part of the Waitomo Walkway (#2) and then continues left along the banks of the Waitomo stream to the Waitomo Glowworm Caves car park. See also the Ruakuri Scenic Reserve and the spectacular 30 min Ruakuri Bushwalk (#4) which are at the end of the Waitomo Walkway.
Mangapohue Natural Bridge
Time: 20 min loop
Distance: 700 m
Boardwalk to Mangapohue Natural
Mangapohue Natural Bridge is a real highlight on the scenic drive to Marokopa. It is 25 km from Waitomo Village.
See Mangapohue Natural Bridge Walk for more detail.
Time: 5 min
Distance: 300 m
Piripiri Cave is 4 km further on from Mangapohue Bridge. There is a short walk through native bush and past some limestone outcrops which leads you to the cave entrance and viewing platform.
Time: 20 min return
Distance: 600 m return
The falls are another 2 km further down from the Piripiri Cave. The 35 m high falls are often described as the most beautiful in the country. Here the Marokopa River cascades over the undercut greywacke basement rock. Take the short track through tawa and nikau forest down to the viewing platform.
This scenic drive through Waitomo's limestone landscape takes you from the SH 3/Waitomo turn-off, across to the historic west coast fishing settlement of Marokopa. From there, it is a further 5 km south down the coast to Kiritehere.
The map below features some of the walks described.
Mangapohue Natural Bridge, Piripiri Cave and Marokopa Falls are beyond Waitomo Village on Te Anga Road heading towards Marokopa.
View larger map to print (JPG, 88K)
Child/family friendly activities
Scenic and nature tours
Piripiri Cave offers the chance to soak in the majesty of a cave in one of the few free caves open to the general public in the area. A platform at the bottom of a short stair case allows you to stand and marvel at the size of the cave and the fragile ecosystems within.
Due to the cave environment, the stairs may be slippery, and good shoes or tramping boots are recommended. You will need a torch to enter and exit the cave. Despite the dark, the cave photographs well so take a camera along.
Child/Family friendly activities
Each of the Waitomo to Marokopa short walks is suitable for walking with young children. The Waitomo caves car park walk is pushchair-friendly.
The longest of the short walks is 20 minutes, and all the trails boast beautiful scenery, with most highlighting the karst landscape for which Waitomo is famous.
The mouth of the Marokopa River is fished year round by surfcasters. Kahawai are commonly caught here, as well as the odd snapper and some other species.
From Waitomo Village, travel along Te Anga Rd then onto Marokopa Rd to Marokopa beach and the mouth of the river.
Scenic and nature tours
From Waitomo village, this 46 km scenic drive takes you through karst country to the historic west coast settlement of Marokopa, with a further 5 km south down the coast to Kiritehere beach.
Along the way there are a number of short walks where you can explore caves, waterfalls, gorges and natural bridges and, if you look closely in some of the rocks on these walks, you may find marine fossils that are millions of years old.
From Waitomo Village, travel along Te Anga Rd for 25 km to reach the first of three easy walking tracks. After visiting the tracks, continue to Marakopa beach for a swim, or an ice cream at the local store.
Specialist activities: Limestone and karst appreciation
Dolines (enclosed depressions), karren (fluted outcrops), arches tunnels and caves are collectively known as karst. This special landscape is a feature of Waitomo, with the Waitomo Caves world famous for their beauty and abundance of glow worms (arachnocampa luminosa).
Most of the short walks has karst features to view.
The rugged character of New Zealand’s west coast is on show at Marokopa and Kiritehere beaches. At low time on Kiritehere beach you can see fossilised clams, mussels and scallops in the rocks at the south end.
Both beaches are suitable for swimming.
Plan and prepare
There is a small general store in Waitomo where supplies may be bought.
The evenings in Waitomo are crisp, so bring a jersey, and insect repellent is also recommended.
Fill up your vehicle with fuel at Otorohanga, Piopio or Te Kuiti as there are no service stations from Waitomo west.
Guides and commercial tourism providers