Tarawera Falls: One of the most beautiful short walks in New Zealand.

When given an opportunity sometimes you just have to "seize the day". Especially when the opportunity given is to walk to the Tarawera Falls.

At The Landing, situated at Lake Tarawera, there is a billboard that displays a map of Lake Tarawera. It clearly shows that in relationship to The Landing the Tarawera Outlet is clear across the other side of the lake. The distance and time taken to travel that far is why this trip is the more costly of the options available to you from Lake Tarawera Water Taxi and Eco Tours.

Last week I had the opportunity to join some Australians travelling via the taxi to the Tarawera Falls. I was told that in comparison to the Tarawera Trail, this walk is very flat so I thought “okay ” I will not have to contact my walking angel, Margaret from DOC to come with me and I was sure that I would not need the walking pole and shoes I still have not invested in.  Thankfully I was right.

After about an hour ride on the water taxi, we arrived at the outlet. Walking with my companions we quickly found the Tarawera Outlet camping ground, my companions went off to explore the camp facilities and I set off on the trail by myself. After all I had conquered the Tarawera Trail and lived to tell the tale, this I felt would be a piece of cake. Note to self: it’s all of those pieces of cake I have been eating while sitting on the couch that have helped me get into this unfit condition.

The map that I had been supplied with showed I was going to spend most of my time meandering through native bush alongside the Tarawera River.  On the route I was struck by the pristine clarity of the water, as the river wove its course to the falls, it seemed to change its nature at each bend. One moment it showed its force in the shape of rapids, then the next it seemed content being the calmest swimming hole you could find.

I found it a sturdy track. In areas the rain damage was clear to see and it was slippery in some places on the exposed rocks in the track. There were steps to climb, but unlike those on the Tarawera Trail I certainly did not feel that I would be reduced to all fours and have to crawl up them, I remained upright and steadfast. At one part of the trail a wallaby crossed the trail in front of me, I am still unsure who out of the two of us was more surprised by our meeting. Once this happened I calmly lost a bit of directional confidence and before too long I was happy to be joined by the other Australians on the track. The three of us trotted on together.

Tony, he easily could leave me in the dust when it came to walking,  Every one of his strides equalled about three of mine, luckily for me, Kerrie his wife, had exactly the same problem keeping up with him.  With Tony and Kerrie celebrating their 30th wedding anniversary next year,  I knew as long as I stuck with Kerrie, Tony would be committed to getting us all back to civilisation.

It was an audible and visual feast venturing towards the first water fall. But that then was surpassed by approaching the second, then the final fall was the icing on the cake, so to speak. The Tarawera Falls are a spectacular site, when you consider that you had just walked past the part where the river had disappeared down a rock chamber to finally work its way out at the falls like some kind of water tube ride unable to be replicated by man.

That steep escarpment to the viewing area of the falls that I had walked down then become a steep climb back to the outlet. After an initial couple of stops to get my breath back, it soon became the nice flat track I remembered walking in. With air in my lungs my walking companions and I got to share stories and talk about the things that mattered in life, all the way back to the outlet jetty, where our water taxi was waiting to return us to the other side of the lake.

It was a special way to spend at least five hours of the day.  Tarawera Falls should be a site you should share with friends and in doing so you can all share the cost of the taxi.

For further information about the Tarawera Falls please refer to our website http://ecotoursrotorua.co.nz/eco-tours/tarawera-falls-ecotour/

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