Wairere Falls is quite a hard walk but well worth the effort to get to the top of the waterfall with fantastic views of the Waikato region.

There are two lookouts, the first is the Wairere Falls lower lookout and the second is the lookout right at the top of the falls.

At 3.9ks you’ll need just under 2 hours to walk one way to the top of Wairere Falls. The return hike to the viewing platform at the base of the Wairere falls takes about an hour and a half. It’s a nice easy walk along a well maintained track through native bush. Several bridges cross the stream with nice views of the stream and occasionally the falls.

Highest waterfall in the North Island

The view of the falls at the platform at the top is spectacular – water plunges 153 metres over the falls making it the highest waterfall in the North Island. They are so tall they can be seen from State Highway 27. 

It’s a 15min, 14k drive from Matamata to the start of the Wairere Falls Track. If you don’t have any transport but would still love to hike the falls then you can take a tour from Hamilton: The Waterfall Day Trip with Hike, Lunch and Tastings also goes to the stunning crystal clear waters of the Blue Springs River Walk.

Quick Facts about this walk

  • Location: West side of Kaimai Range south of Te Aroha, North Island, NZ
  • Distance: 5 kms
  • Time needed: 3-5 hours return
  • Difficulty: Medium
  • Wheelchair Access: No
  • Route: One Way
  • Elevation: 400m
  • Wet Feet: No
  • Toilets: Yes
  • Dogs: No
  • Mobile Coverage: Yes
  • Last Updated: November, 2019

Summary points about this walk

Points of interest along the walk​

Car park is the start of the Wairere Falls Walk

The car park has a security camera hidden in the trees; well that is what the sign said. The start is easy to find, walk to the southern end of the car park. Down to the sign post. The lookout is 45mins.

Into the bush on the Wairere Falls Walk

Into the bush and turn to the right. You will walk up through very interesting bush and rocky ground, don’t even think of calling into the toilet long drop. Only fit for blow flies. You should have gone before you left town!

First bridge on the Wairere Falls Walk

After 5 mins you will cross a bridge. Then a little bush and farm walking. Pass the Old Maori track on your right, which is very steep and very very slippery after a little rain and over grown in places.

Second bridge on the Wairere Falls Walk

After another 5 mins walking you will cross the second bridge and the third etc. The track will lead you under and around rocky out crops covered in moss and dark green ferns. There is this one corner, when you walk around it, you get this aerie feeling there is a dinosaur waiting to say Hi welcome to my neighbourhood, please stay for dinner!

A few steps up the well built staircase

The creek follows the track most of the way to the 121 steps, so take some time, set up the tripod and try a couple of time exposures of the waterfalls. Should I tell you about the 121 steps, up the new wooden stair case, its well built, OK, I won’t. The last 10 mins to the lookout might make you sweat a little.

First lookout – not at the top of Wairere Falls yet

Take the turn off to the lookout to the left, it’s not a big sign, so look where you are going. Take a break at the lookout, take a photo or two, sit down on the bench seats and enjoy the view of the waterfalls. Back to the main track, the first 20 mins is an uphill climb, not too hard. You will pass the turn off to the old Maori track after 5 min. This track is over grown and is a very slippery clay base all the way to the bottom.

Summit and top of the Wairere Falls

At the top, turn left at the creek, a 2 min walk to the falls. There is a small platform and seats so you can enjoy the view. A strong and cold wind can power over the top of the falls, so get the warm jacket out. Back at the creek the track carries on to the right, it is a good walk along the creek. You will see a vast change in the bush. But don’t go too far, a taxi back from Tauranga might set you back a few dollars!

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