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  1. Visit Ruapehu
  2. Things to see and do
  3. Walking & Hiking
  4. Waterfalls


Tawhai Falls 1.jpg
Tawhai Falls, photo credit TNZ

Take your choice of beautiful walks in Ruapehu leading to breathtaking waterfalls

Waitonga falls
Tongariro National Park’s highest waterfall, the 39 metre Waitonga Falls, is reached via a well-formed track through mountain beech and kaikawaka (mountain cedar) forest.
On clear calm days there are fantastic views of Mount Ruapehu and the surrounding countryside. You can see reflections of the mountain in the Rotokawa pools, part of an alpine wetland area. The track begins from the parking area 11 kilometres up the Ohakune Mountain Road. 

Mangawhero falls
Magnificent Mangawhero Falls is a 28 metre waterfall, the most popular one in Tongariro National Park due to its easy accessibility and perfect view of Mount Ruapehu. The track begins from a carpark on the Ohakune Mountain Road, 13 kilometres up from the rail bridge.

Taranaki Falls
The upper and lower tracks form a loop with the waterfall situated around the half­way point. Tumbling 20 metres over the edge of a large lava flow, Taranaki Falls plunge into a boulder-­ringed pool. From below the falls there are spectacular views into the water­worn gorges of the Wairere Stream. Begins 100 metres below Whakapapa Visitor Centre at Ngauruhoe Place.

Taranaki Falls.jpg

Taranaki Falls, photo credit TNZ

Tawhai Falls
Tawhai Falls is 13 metre high waterfall located in Tongariro National Park, along the way to Whakapapa Village. Easy and enjoyable walk brings you to the waterfall's lookout, then to the falls base where you can find 'natural rocky Trolls' (exactly as described in the 'Hobbit'). Begins 4 km below Tongariro National Park Visitor Centre on SH 48.

Kaiwhakauka waterfall
Kaiwhakauka waterfall is a three hour tramp starting at Blue Duck Station, Owhango . There is public access for the walk starting from the cafe which is onsite. The walk takes about 1-1.5 hours each way so up to a 3 hour return trip. The track is quite flat so accessible to most, however it does get very muddy with only a little rain so hiking boots are recommended. The walk takes about 1-1.5 hours each way so up to a 3 hour return trip.

Tupapakurua Falls
A four to five hour return tramp beginning at Fishers Road.  It begins with an easy 20 min walk to the Taranaki Lookout.  From this point the track becomes a back country adventure track and is suitable for experienced trampers only.  The track follows a ridge and then descends steeply to a stream.  There are good stands of tawa, mature rimu, miro and totara to see along the way.  Climbing from the stream, the track winds its way around bluffs to a good lookout point with views of the falls.  Return via the same track.

Waterfalls Descent 
This walk is accessible from the Whakapapa ski field in summer and is 2 hours one way. The walk is easiest done as a descent from the Knoll Ridge Cafe or for those wanting abit more of a challenge can begin near Lorenz'z Cafe at the bottom of the Sky Waka Gondola. Note this walk can only be done in summer.

  • Mangawhero River Ruapehu Region.jpg

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    Escape to Ruapehu, just half a day and a world away from our biggest cities, you’ll arrive in a living landscape that’s home to ancient rainforests, active volcanoes, sacred mountains, tranquil rivers, and two of our cherished national parks. Learn all about it here.

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