Off the beaten track: Omanawa Falls, Bay of Plenty

I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a beautiful waterfall. We’re rather spoilt for choice here in New Zealand, but this was one to rule them all.

Omanawa Falls, in the Bay of Plenty region, is a stunner. It’s also a nightmare to access, which makes even it more of an adventure.

Winding up the Kaimai foothills from Tauranga, you pull into a nondescript parking area on the side of the road – there’s only a small yellow sign showing you’ve come to the right place. A short, easy ten minute walk later you arrive at a viewing point high above the falls.

Wow.

Omanawa Falls

Speaks for itself really, doesn’t it?

Because there is a small power station down at the water level (out of the shot above), there is no public access down to the falls. But fortunately for us, the people we were with knew the sneaky way down!

PLEASE NOTE: You should not attempt to find your way down to the falls unless you are with someone who knows the way. The terrain is incredibly steep and there is no formed track.

The way down was insane. I had to put my camera in my bag the whole time (hence no photos from the track), as it was so steep that you had to use both hands to brace yourself on trees, hang from branches, and slide down slippery slopes.

But… this is what was awaiting you at the bottom:

Omanawa Falls

The watering hole provides for a very refreshing swim (read: absolutely mind-numbingly freezing!) and you can explore the small cave created by the falls. Being surrounded by lush New Zealand bush is so nice, especially on a warm summer’s day.

Omanawa Falls

There’s a wooden platform next to the power station that you can sunbathe on and relax before climbing back up the steep slope again.

Omanawa Falls

If in doubt, just enjoy the view from the public viewing area above. It’s still gorgeous! It’s not worth risking your life to get down to the falls (seriously, people have almost died here).

We were delighted to be shown a hidden slice of amazing New Zealand – it’s so cool that there’s paradises like this all over the place!

Do you know of any hidden gems in New Zealand? Want to tell us?

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12 comments

  1. Lydia

    Keen to head here on the weekend, but don’t know any locals to show us the route!! Would you have any directions you wouldn’t mind sharing??

  2. Anonymous

    Oh man, we tried doing this hike but were at a loss! The trail (if you could call it that) was insane and without a local guide we didn’t make it all the way down, which i’m gutted about!

    • Petra
      Author

      Yeah you definitely need to go with someone who knows the way – we were lucky to have that! Still looks beautiful from the top though 🙂

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  4. Anonymous

    This waterfall and public access is permanently closed. There is no safe viewing platform, only old, unmaintained rails and standing place. Anyone accessing the falls through poor, slippery track absolute takes their life into their own hands. Someone has just died there. Please respect this, and dont try to visit it.

    • Thanks for your comment – as you can see this post was written almost three years ago and I appreciate the situation may have changed since then. I now recommend viewing the falls from the viewing platform and not attempting to get to the base. It’s awful that people have died there – we were lucky enough to visit safely. Cheers

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