• Huka Falls

    Your guide to the must-see waterfalls in the North Island

July 20, 2022

Forget the TLC song, at Rapids Jet, we say DO go chasing waterfalls! We’re slightly biased, but we reckon there’s no better place for it than on Aotearoa’s North Island. Here’s our list of our must-visit spots that you’re sure to ‘fall’ for – with plenty of scenery to fill both your camera roll and your travel memories.

Huka Falls, Taupō

The most-visited natural attraction in New Zealand – and perhaps one of the most impressive – is the thundering Huka Falls. Be transfixed by the phenomenon of over 220,000 litres of water per second squeezed through a narrow gorge, then barrelling over the 11-metre-tall waterfall!

Hear the roar of the falls, see the river up close and feel the spray on your skin as you walk or cycle down the well-formed trails that lead to a variety of viewpoints. Take it easy an idyllic river cruise, or get up close and personal to the wet and wild Nga Awa Purua Rapids further down the river on an exhilarating 35-minute jet boat adventure. ‘Surfing’ the waves on a purpose-built V8 jetboat is the perfect adrenaline fix for nature-lovers and thrill-seekers alike.

Okere Falls, Rotorua

On the shores of Lake Rotoiti lies the magnificent Okere Falls, at the base of the Kaituna River. They’ve earned their place on the adventure map for their epic rapids – as the home of the world’s highest commercially rafted waterfall! Meander along the short family-friendly bushwalk, go trout fishing or spot glowworms at night – and if you’re looking for a bucket-list adventure, take on the mighty Tutea Falls on a Kaitiaki Adventure rafting experience. 

Wairēinga/Bridal Veil Falls, Raglan

Raglan may be best-known for its primo surf breaks, but the spectacular 55-metre-high Wairēinga/ Bridal Veil Falls are a hidden gem, ready to discover once you’ve finished catching waves. Just a short ten minute stroll from the carpark, this waterfall has a variety of viewing points so you can appreciate the cascading sight from multiple angles.


Marokopa Falls in Waitomo 

Just down the road from Waitomo’s glistening glowworm caves are some magnificent waterfalls that could just as well be out of a fairy tale. A short 600-metre-return track will guide you through lush Tawa and Nikau forests in anticipation of the mighty 35-metre-high falls. Don’t forget to pack a camera as this is a definite addition to the ‘gram.  

Continue your nature escape with a trip beneath the surface to the magical Ruakuri caves – the Black Water Rafting journey includes underground waterfall jumps and a tubing experience beneath the starry glowworm canopy above.

McLaren Falls, Tauranga 

A much-loved park amongst locals and visitors alike, this 190-hectare lakeland reserve offers more than just the falls, boasting a beautiful network of walkways through botanical trees – perfect for hikes, picnics, disc golf, camping or simply soaking up nature.

It’s a short, easy stroll to the picturesque waterfall itself, featuring a criss-cross of mini waterways cascading over the rocks. It’s a delightful sight during the day, or head out after dusk and you’ll likely spot the twinkle of glowworms on either side of the track.

Rere Falls, Gisborne 

A short drive from Gisborne lies one of the most charming waterfalls in New Zealand – complete with a picturesque picnic area. They’re ideal if you’re looking to make a splash, with a great swimming hole at the base of the falls, so take a towel if you feel like a dip. Let the kids run wild and enjoy a classic summer’s day out, in this scenic spot that everyone will love.

Taranaki Falls, Ruapehu

Located in the iconic Tongariro National Park, the Taranaki Falls make for a great warm-up or cool-down before or after the Tongariro Northern Circuit, or for an excellent hike in itself. Strap on your boots for a 6km loop through tussock and alpine shrublands before entering beech forest. The 20-metre-tall waterfalls tumble over an ancient lava flow formed by an eruption 15,000 years ago, so take some time to admire the volcanic history and to soak up the stunning mountainous views of the Central Plateau.

Shine Falls in Napier

A popular summer destination for locals and visitors alike, the 58-metre-high Shine Falls are a spectacular sight to behold. Combine your waterfall hunt with a fun 1.5-hour-return track through farmland, native forest and towering sandstone bluffs – it’s a must-do on any Hawkes Bay itinerary.

With all these natural wonders calling your name on your next North Island roadie, which one are you falling for first?

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