NZ Gps: 37° 44' 14.4384" S 175° 51' 45.54" E
These falls are…(here I go again)…a surprise spectacle, a marvelous magnificence! Unexpectedly, 14km east of Matamata’s Shiredoor Hobbitland, the Wairere stream leaps off a 152m escarpment as if it just can’t wait to see Bilbo and Frodo. Wairere Falls are the North Island’s highest falls, but amazingly they seem to stay far off the tourist map (neither “Lonely” nor “Rough” seems to have noticed the falls.) All the better. After a heavy rain the falls blast a rainbow’d torrent, but even in normal summer flows the experience of these falls is exclamatory! Afternoon is best for these west-facing falls.
The track from the carpark heads moderately upwards about 30 minutes to a lookout platform, then steeply up another 20 minutes to the lip of the falls. No average track is this though…oh no…DOC has outdone itself here with a crafty feat of track-engineering ingenuity. Bridges actually zigzag as they criss-cross the boulder-choked stream. Then, approaching the lookout, the track ascends a vertical corkscrewing Koru staircase…Impressive. Thanks DOC!!
And now, as if these falls aren’t “hidden” enough already…here comes the NZ Frenzy hidden insight. If you’re sprightly and young-at-heart (say, 42 years old), you’ll want to pack your water shoes with you. After seeing all the viewpoints, retreat back down the staircase to the bridge and shoe-up for a stream adventure. Like a leaping jungle-cat possum you’ll rock-hop up the base of the falls in only about 15 minutes. Sweet as! This is no South Island crowded BS tourboat frigid waterfall photo-op…this is the soul of the North Island…a do-it-yourself adventure on an island of constant surprises! Is the pool at the base swimmable? Go see. The big flat rock at the base doesn’t see the sun until noon, but when it does…ahhh the ticklish feel of the mist drying off your naked skin is unforgettable.