Hunua Falls was the last waterfall we visited on each of our two trips to New Zealand in November-December 2004 and in December-January 2010. I don't know why it has worked out that way, but it always seemed to be a fitting waterfall to visit to cap off our epic trips to the Land of the Long White Cloud. For starters, this was a pleasant 30m plunge waterfall nestled deep in the Hunua Ranges that we found to be very easy to visit. Apparently, this waterfall was also shown in the old TV series Xena: Warrior Princess so it certainly caught the eye of even filming crews.
That said, it seemed like much had changed around the waterfall since our first trip in 2004. I recalled how much of a quiet experience as it seemed like Julie and I were either the only ones here or amongst a handful of people that were there when we first showed up. We noticed lily pads, reeds, and daffodils by the plunge pool of Hunua Falls, and it didn't seem like a likely place to go to swim despite the size of the plunge pool. But over five years later, we saw a completely different scene with dozens of people around and in the plunge pool while the lily pads and daffodils were gone (see photo at the top of this page). There were even some people who swam right up to the turbulent base of the falls for a bit of the hard shower.
From the large car park (see directions below), we had a choice of which path to take. We first crossed the bridge across the Hunua Stream where we got to see the falls reflected where the stream was calm. Once we got to the other side of the bridge, we then turned right and followed the short path to access the plunge pool where we once saw the lilypads and daffodils. We managed to walk along the plunge pool to get all the way to the cliff where we got interesting profile views of Hunua Falls as well as get a closer look at the individuals who managed to swim to the base of the falls as well.
When we returned to the car park, we then noticed another path that took us to the plunge pool on the opposite side of the Hunua Stream. While making our way over there, we noticed there was a masterpiece theatre frame with Hunua Falls in the background. We saw something like this at the Arataki Visitor Centre along Scenic Drive just before it entered the Waitakere Ranges, but I'd argue that the subject of this frame was far more interesting. Overall, each of our visits to the falls didn't take long though there were many other trails that went away from the waterfall. Since we didn't go on those tracks, can't comment more on where they would lead to.
Directions: From the Auckland CBD, we had to make our way south to the SH1 (we took the on-ramp from Green la E). We then went south on the Southern Motorway (SH1) for about 24.5km to the Papakura exit (Hingaia Rd exit). Then, we turned left to go onto Beach Rd, which eventually became Settlement Rd after crossing the Great South Rd, and after 2.6km from the motorway exit, we then turned right onto Hunua Rd (next to the Sir Edumand Hillary School.
After about almost 13km on Hunua Rd, we then turned left onto White Rd (there was a sign at the turnoff indicating Hunua Falls, which also helped). We then took White Rd for a little over a kilometre before turning right onto Falls Rd, and we followed this road to its end after 2.3km where there was a large car park for Hunua Falls as well as Kokako Lodge.