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July 2014 Issue
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Rainforest rainbows

The Rainforest - fringed Aniwaniwa Falls
A signposted walkway exists on both sides of the bridge over Aniwaniwa Stream, just north of the Waikaremoana Visitor Centre

Aniwaniwa Falls, Te Urewera National Park

In the north-eastern corner of Lake Waikaremoana, in Te Urewera National Park the sinuous Aniwaniwa Stream enters the lake through a small cove.

While this peaceful interface of river, lake and bush is picturesque, the main attraction lies further back and up the hill from where the river passes beneath the Waikaremoana Road bridge.

Beside the bridge, a trail enters the rainforest and descends through a series of steps and zig-zags to the cove. As it does so, it passes beside, and almost beneath, a set of magnificent cascades. There are three cascades in all which have become known as the Aniwaniwa Falls, meaning rainbow, but each has a separate identity – the Momahaki Falls, 11m; the Te Tangi-o-Hinerau Falls at a similar height, and the Bridal Veil Falls at 15m. Each has a special charm which together with the luxuriant vegetation, native bird life, and sound and smell of the spray make a remarkable setting for this bush walk.

The falls become more spectacular just after rain, which is when I visited. The cloudy skies and increased water volume seem to charge the bush and river with increased energy and sound. There is something quite special about being in close proximity to a large volume of water surging though the forest before dashing itself in a foaming fall over a precipice before reassembling itself to repeat the process just a little further downstream.

If the experience of the triple falls has not satiated your desire for plunging curtains of water, then take  Aniwaniwa Road, just beside the visitor centre, for 1.5km to a car park and five minute walk to the grand old ‘mother fall’ on this river: the 20m Papakorito Falls. They plunge off an escarpment into a large forest-fringed pool accessed from the walking track.

– Pat Barrett