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Te Tapahoro Bay via Tarawera Falls, Lake Tarawera Scenic Reserve

Tarawera Falls. Photo: Josh Gale
Lake Tarawera Scenic Reserve
4hr return
Private forestry roads. Permit ($5), plus map and directions available at the Kawerau Information Centre, Plunket St
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From the track start it’s a 20 minute walk through native bush to reach the falls. These are spectacular – reminiscent of Taupo’s Huka Falls. A torrent of white water spurts out of fissures in a rock face that juts out of native bush.

It’s possible to walk off the track down onto the riverbed and up close to the falls to get an even more impressive vantage point.

From the falls continues alongside the Tarawera River and passes a few smaller waterfalls, one of which violently spits the river through a narrow gorge, turning the water into a swirling white froth.

The track between the falls and Te Tapahoro Bay is relatively flat and makes easy walking as it passes through stunning bush. Pohutukawa, rata and hybrids of the two dominate the relatively young forest which has regenerated after the 1886 eruption of Mt Tarawera. Large rocks on either side of the path reminded of the area’s volcanic history.

The majestic and historic Mt Tarawera stands above the campsite at Te Tapahoro Bay. The mountain is off limits as it is on the private land of Ngati Rangitihi and access to the summit is managed by the iwi. Ngati Rangitihi say independent public access was stopped in 2000 because the mountain, a sacred burial ground, was being disrespected and desecrated. More than 10 tons of rubbish was removed from the mountain.