Having a ball at Haruru Falls

The Bay of Islands is famous for its beaches, boating and ocean activities - but how much do you know about one of its freshwater highlights?

The Haruru Falls are well worth a visit while you’re exploring the region. Situated on the Waitangi River, these unusual, horseshoe-shaped falls are a short drive from Paihia, or there is an excellent walking track between the falls and the Waitangi Treaty Grounds.

Here in the birthplace of New Zealand, Haruru Falls was an aramoana (sea road or ocean path) for inland Maori tribes. There was a small trading settlement there, and nine villages between Haruru and Waitangi, where the river meets the sea. Māori legend says that a taniwha (water monster) lives in the lagoon below the falls.

When Europeans came to New Zealand they established New Zealand’s first river port at Haruru Falls. Kauri logging and gum digging was a major enterprise in the north, and logs and gum were sent down the river.

A two-story hotel with accommodation was built nearby in 1828; by 1856 a store was added and later a post office. The road from the river to the main road was the first recorded road in New Zealand.

Take a walk to Haruru Falls from Waitangi and discover the peace and tranquillity of the area. As you walk along the river, over boardwalks and through a mature mangrove forest towards the falls, you’ll hear the rushing and roaring of water pouring over the rocks. Haruru means ‘big noise’ – and now you’ll understand why! Once you’ve arrived, you can sit and drink in the view, go for a swim or kayak in the lagoon below.

(Be aware that the road between the falls and Paihia is not suitable for pedestrians, so we recommend you return along the walking track (or call a taxi).

Read about other Bay of Islands walks.

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