5 km return via same track
Bridge over Wairere Falls.
Image: Tahu Taylor-Koolen ©
Wairere Falls Track is a very popular walk on the western side of the Kaimai Mamaku Conservation Park near Te Aroha. From the car park an enjoyable, undulating track crosses large moss covered rocks and tree roots requiring decent footwear and some minor climbing. Small wooden bridges take you across the stream at several points, offering lovely views of the water and its cascades.
There is a steady incline up the steps to the base of the cliff, through a grove of nīkau, pūriri and kohekohe, before leading to a lookout platform with a spectacular view of the falls (45 minutes from road end).
The track becomes much harder from this point as it climbs further up the hill to the top platform, with plenty of steps and staircases in the steeper section. Take your time as you climb to the top of the falls and watch your footing over the rocks and tree roots. Once you reach the top of the climb, the track passes through forest before reaching the falls lookout after about 90 minutes. The viewing platform at the top of the waterfall provides fantastic views of the Waikato valley.
The falls drop 153 metres over the steep escarpment, which is part of the Okauia fault line. In spring, watch out for the apricot-coloured flowers of the taurepo plant on the rocky valley walls.
Return the same way. Some people take walking sticks as the return walk down hill and steps can be tiring on knees.
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.
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 and time 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.
Mountain biking is not allowed.
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 tōtara in native forest.