There is a ton to do in the town of Rotorua. It’s location among geothermal pools, lakes, and geysers makes it one of the top destinations to visit on the North Island of New Zealand. You can easily spend days soaking up nature, the Maori culture, or indulging in dozens of adventurous activities.
However, if you only have a few hours in Rotorua, a tight budget, and you’re not so keen about the town’s sulphuric aroma, might I suggest chasing a few waterfalls!
With all the geothermic activity in the area, Rotorua tends to be a bit smelly…
A twenty minute drive outside of Rotorua will bring you to the Okere Falls Track. This track will lead you along the banks of the Kaituna River and reward you with not one, but three awesome waterfalls. In addition, hiking the whole track will take maybe an hour if you stop to take lots of pictures.
Three waterfalls for the price of not much walking? Now I’ve got your attention…
The first set of falls you’ll see are the Okere Falls. This wide set of waterfalls was once used to generate hydro-electricity for the town of Rotorua. The Okere Falls Power Station was put into operation in 1901. It provided power until 1936, when it could no longer supply enough for the rapidly growing town. Today, you can still see the rusted remnants of the powerhouse and an old turbine.
You can see what’s left of the powerhouse at the bottom right side of the photo
Continuing on the path past the Okere Falls will bring you to a fork in the trail. Going to the right will take you to a set of stairs leading to Tutea Falls. Known as being the most commercially rafted waterfall in the world, Tutea Falls is a force to be reckoned with. We’re talking thundering white water crashing down 23 feet. Fun fact: Only 50% of the rafts that go over these falls will even land upright! If you’re able to see a raft or even an adrenaline-rush-seeking-maniac in a kayak take on this fall, it is totally worth it.
Not only will you see this amazing waterfall, but if you continue down the path you will come to Hinemoa’s Steps and Tutea Cave. The steps were carved into the rock in 1907 as an easier way to access Tutea’s Cave. Historians say that during times of war, women and children would descend, by rope, down the side of the cliff to hide inside this cave. Unfortunately you won’t be able to see far into the cave. There are holes in the floor, making it unsafe for public exploration. Still, it’s pretty interesting to peer in and imagine people huddled inside waiting for safety.
Trout Pool Falls
Once you turn around and head back to that fork in the main trail, head towards the Trout Pool Falls. This trail is a bit longer, but is filled with the sweet smells of nature and the exotic sounds of native birds flying overhead. Soon, you will come to a parking lot, as this is the exit point for all rafting adventures. Trout Pool Falls are much too dangerous for rafts to go over. To the right of the parking lot you will find a wooden platform overlooking some small rapids just before the exit point. You can also get right to the bank of the river. But be careful, as the current is unforgiving and you don’t want to fall in! The trail to the left of the parking lot will lead to a better view of the Trout Pool Falls themselves.
I don’t know why anyone would rope-swing into this death trap…
Found any good New Zealand waterfalls lately? Share in the comments below!