See why Whangarei Falls is The Most Photogenic in New Zealand

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The 24 metre high Whangarei Falls is known as the most photogenic waterfall in all of New Zealand.

Because of its ease of access, picturesque bush setting, and guaranteed 365 days per year flow, it is a must see if you are in the Whangarei area.

Located just 5km from the city of Whangarei, which is the northernmost city in New Zealand, the picturesque waterfalls are a pleasant place to enjoy a picnic or a walk amidst the native bush.

But if you’re not sure how to get to Whangarei Falls, how to do the Whangarei Falls hike, or what there is to see, then this is a complete guide to visiting Whangeri Falls and what to expect.

Where is Whangarei Falls?

Whangarei Falls spilling over cliff face surrounded by lush trees
Whangarei Falls

Whangarei is 160km, two hours drive north of Auckland on State Highway 1. The nearest city is Whangarei, which is 10-minutes’ drive from the falls.

To get to the falls, you will need to drive out of Whangarei City Center onto State Highway 1 until you reach Central Avenue/Twin Coast Discovery which is a left turn off the SH1.

Follow Twin Coast Discovery Highway until you see a right turn onto Boundary Road in the surburb of Tikipunga, and this is where the parking lot to the falls is located.

From the parking lot, it’s a 5-10 minute walk to the falls.

It’s free to enter Whangaria Falls and is open all year round. Be sure to bring comfortable walking shoes and food for a picnic.

What is the history of Whangarei Falls?

Whangarei Falls falling in triplet cascades
Whangarei Falls, Northland, New Zealand

Whangarei Falls, also known as Otuihau, is located in Whangarei Scenic Reserve. This beautiful curtain waterfall is is 26.3 meters (85 feet) high and falls over basalt lava flow cliffs.

The base of the falls is known as an area of healing and once used for washing the wounded and dead for local Maori people.

It’s part of the Hatea River is the most popular swimming spot in the area, but check before swimming as it is said to be contaminated water!!

The falls have been a popular destination for picnics and recreation since the 1890s until the land was bought by Mr Archibald Clapham in the late 1920’s, who owned Clapham’s Clocks.

He didn’t want the land to become commercially exploited, but it was eventually sold to the local Businessmen’s Association who turned it into a public park 1946 for the local residents.

Things to Do at Whangarei Falls

river under bridge with Whangarei Falls, in the distance
Magical Whangarei Falls, New Zealand

As well as admire the falls, here are some other things to do at Whangarei Falls…

1. Walk the Whangarei Loop Walk

Along with sheltered picnic areas, you can also enjoy a gentle loop walk which offers viewing platforms of the falls from both the top of the waterfall and the bottom of the waterfall.

The walk around Whangarei Falls has paved and gravel terrain, and I found it quiet, peaceful, with a wonderful ambience in a natural habitat well preserved.

Depending on the amount of recent rainfall, the falls can appear as several parallel columns of water or a large rectangular column.

An easy walking path from the main car park along the main track to the first viewing platform, upper waterfall’s lookout. It takes only 2 minutes to reach this lookout, and the walk is suitable for people of all abilities.

To walk to the waterfall’s base, you need to cross the river via a concrete bridge and follow the track. One minute after crossing the river you’ll see one more upper lookout – don’t miss it.

It will take 5 minutes to reach the waterfall’s base from this lookout and then 5 minutes to come back to the carpark using the same track, or return via the 30-minutes’ loop track.

This track has stairs and short steep climbs and not suitable for wheelchairs/strollers or those with mobility issues.

2. Visit AH Reed Memorial Kauri Park

There is a longer circular walk to the AH Reed Memorial Kauri Park, which takes around 1 hour to complete.

AH Reed Memorial Park is a remnant of the original kauri forests which were once extensive throughout Northland.

The park features a stunning canopy walkway, enabling visitors to ‘get up close and personal’ with stately 500 year old kauri trees.

3. Have a Picnic

Whangarei Falls at the end of the river

There is a beautiful picnic area in the well-maintained scenic reserve which has an impressive view of the the powerful waterfall.

While you sit back and admire the spectacular views of the falls while you eat your picnic, keep your eyes on the lookout for native bird species who sometimes come to visit the falls.

The native wood pigeon and grey warbler are two of the most common birds to fly down to the natural pools and can also be heard cooing in the native forest nearby.

4. Walk from Whangarei Falls to Town Basin via Sands Road Loop

If you don’t want to drive, it’s possible to walk from Whangeri to Whangeri Falls and back via the Sands Road loop.

The loop passes AH Reed Memorial Park and along the Hatea River walk to the base of the falls.

Start at Town Basin and walk along the walking track next to the river to Mair Park, from there, walk along the Whareora Road until you reach the lower car park in the AH Reed Memorial Park.

You will find the trail from AH Reed Memorial Park to the lower falls of Whangarei Falls from the car park there.

Final Thoughts

Whangarei Falls is one of the most scenic spots in North Island New Zealand and is the perfect lunchtime spot with a view.

There are also lots of nearby attractions to visit, and the easy walk allows you to stretch your legs and take in the natural beauty of the region.

For those reasons, we highly recommend adding Whangarei Falls to your New Zealand itinerary.

Disclaimer: My trip to New Zealand is courtesy of Qantas and the Great Crusade tour, however all opinions, ideas and thoughts in this guide are my own.

New Zealand Travel Tips

Need more inspiration for traveling to New Zealand? Here are some other helpful guides.

QUESTION….Have you visited any other waterfalls in New Zealand? Please share in the comments below…

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