Places to Visit In New Zealand – Tarawera Falls

by Mark Perkins

Lake Tarawera

When thinking of places to visit in New Zealand, one is confronted with many options and choices as to what to see and do. As a tour coach driver I am extremely blessed, as I am able to visit many places the general traveller/tourist normally wouldn’t got to. One of these places to visit in New Zealand is the Tarawera Outlook and Falls. Rotorua is well known as the Geothermal Capital of New Zealand, and one of the most recent volcanic eruptions in this area, was back in 1886 on the 10th of June, early in the morning and went on until about 6.00am. Not as long as some of the recent eruptions there have been in Chile etc.

The eruption started with a series of earthquakes and then Mt Tarawera Erupted violently destroying a number of villages and killing approx. 150 people.

What was said to have been the 8th wonder of the world, the Pink & White Terraces, were also destroyed. Having said that, recent searches have discovered what is thought to be both of the terraces at the bottom of Lake Rotomahana.

places to visit in new zealand

Lake Tarawera is in this area and is one of quite a number of Lakes that surround another one of the most popular places to visit in New Zealand, Rotorua. Rotorua in Maori means second lake. The eruption of Mt Tarawera raised the lake level by 12 metres, and changed much of the Tarawera landscape. The lake drains eastward through the Tarawera River, over spectacular falls, The Tarawera Falls.

Today we ventured into the other side of the Lake, at a place called Kawerau. Kawerau is very much a mill town, with the main employer being a pulp and paper mill.

places to visit in new  zealandImage via WikipediaThe journey starts by obtaining a pass from the Kawerau ‘i’ site (information site) and traveling along the ‘million dollar highway’, so called because it cost $NZ1,000,000 to build this unsealed Kaiangaroa forestry road, until you come to a junction that takes you down to the Lake and outlet. From here there is a two hour walk which passes the falls and onto the falls car park. Situated at this location is also a DOC, department of conservation, camp site. These camp sites are very basic and are classed as ‘pack in pack out’, meaning that whatever you bring in you take out – waste, both human and other. Approx. 15 minutes further on, by car, is the Tarawera Falls car park. The various locations are all very well sign posted. From the car park it is a short walk, 10 – 20 minutes, to the falls which are spectacular and well worth the effort. As with many of the locations and places to visit in New Zealand, you will walk though native bush and be able to get up close and personal with many of our native plants. Remember it is very safe as we have NO snakes or nasty’s here in New Zealand.

Lake Tarawera Falls one of the places to visit in New Zealand

How to get there:-

Take State Highway 30 between Rotorua and Whakatane, then turn off to Kawerau Township and collect the $NZ5-00 permit from:- The Kawerau Information Centre Plunket St, Kawerau +64 7 323 6300 Email: Open daily 9am – 4pm during winter and 8am – 7pm during summer (closed Christmas Day). They will provide a map for the rest of your trip.

What’s there:-

Department of conservation Camp site and picnic area The Tarawera Falls Scenic walks   When planning your campervan holiday in New Zealand be sure to consider the Tarawera Fall as one of those places to visit in New Zealand.

holiday in New Zealand Rotorua Stories Behind the Scenery, available from New Zealand top online book store Click image to view details

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Laila March 5, 2014 at 8:32 am

Just wondering if you are a native New Zealander, or if a foreigner and just wishing, like me.;)

Mark Perkins March 26, 2014 at 9:38 am


Actually I’m not a native New Zealander, but have liver here for about 54 years, si I guess that qualify’s me.

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