IntroductionThe limestone features and native vegetation in the Tawarau Forest can best be seen by walking on one of the forest's scenic tracks.
Tawarau Falls Loop Track
Time: 3 hr to complete loop or 2 hr return to Tawarau Falls
You can choose to walk this track as a loop or extend it with the Double Falls Track. Combining the Tawarau Falls Loop Track with the walk to the Double Falls will take 5 hours 30 minutes return. You can also use the Tawarau Falls Loop Track to link up with the Gorge Track.
From the Appletree Road end and heading to the Tawarau Falls the track climbs briefly then drops to the Tawarau River. It then runs along the northern bank of the meandering river before crossing a bridge to the south bank.
There are three river crossings from this point to the falls and you walk through a section of forest where the understory is lush with Prince of Wales feathers fern (double crepe fern). A sign marks the entrance to the falls located 5 minutes off the main track. A chain is in place to aid access to the bottom of the falls.
The track continues on to complete the loop or you can return the way you came. Amazing limestone bluffs, beautiful ferns and the small falls of water along the track make this a memorable place.
Double Falls Track
Time: 3 hr 30 min from Were Road or 2 hr from Appletree Road end
You can reach these beautiful and secluded falls from Appletree Road end, or along the Gorge Track.
From Appletree Road end, a well-formed track takes you through regenerating native forest and then through a pine block on a forestry road for a short section. Check out the giant oyster fossils in the limestone outcrop.
The last 20 minutes is a steep descent to the falls. Between the two falls a stream disappears underground and reappears at the top of the second waterfall cascading over a mossy rockface. It is an idyllic spot at the bottom of a rocky gorge surrounded by bluffs and boulders - a perfect place to explore, have lunch and bathe your feet in the stream.
Time: 3 hr 30 min
Access this track from either Were Road or Speedies Road.
This track follows Mangaohae Stream until it flows through a spectacular limestone gorge and enters the Tawarau River. Both start by crossing farmland. Please follow the markers and be mindful and respectful of stock. From Were Road end, the Tawarau/Double Falls track branches off the Gorge Track across a swingbridge, after approximately 2 hours.
The main track continues down the river to Speedies Road. The track can be muddy so come prepared. From Speedies Road end, the Tawarau/Double Falls track junction is about 1 hour 30 minutes. Blackberry Flat (500 m north of the Tawarau/Double Falls track junction) is a good campsite, though there are several other good camping sites in the forest. The Gorge Track was once known as the Kawhia to Mahoenui highway.
Warning: This track is overgrown and markers through the farm are missing between Speedies Road to the gorge. Contact the Te Kuiti Office for further information about the track conditions.
Tawarau Forest is west of the Waitomo Caves.
It's approximately 34 km from Waitomo to Speedies Road and 38 km to Were Road. Its various track entrances are about 1 hour 30 minutes drive from Hamilton.
Appletree Road is not maintained by the local council and is unsuitable for low wheel-base vehicles.
Maps: NZTopo50 BF32 (Piopio)
You need to be well prepared when tramping on these tracks. Have strong comfortable shoes or boots, warm clothing, a good rain coat, first aid kit, food and drink, a hat and sunscreen