Te Reinga Falls

near Wairoa / near Gisborne, Hawke's Bay Region (North Island), New Zealand

Rating: 1.5     Difficulty: 2
Te Reinga Falls
Te Reinga Falls was a waterfall that Julie and I had to do a little bit of an unofficial scramble to even get the partial view you see at the top of this page. Despite the fact that this waterfall was well signposted with an official overlook, that sanctioned way of experiencing the falls was very unsatisfactory. While we anticipated a nice view of the Wairoa River (a combination of the Ruakituri and Hangaroa Rivers) dropping some 35m in a spectacular display, all we were able to see was the river disappearing over the crest of the waterfall seen from further upstream (as opposed to downstream) of the falls itself. Our consolation prize was that our visit was timed well enough to at least see some rainbows refracting the sunlight in the rising mist of the scene.

From the signposted car park (see directions below), we took the five-minute track to get to the overlook, which sat at the top of a hill overlooking Te Renga Falls. Julie and I were determined to get a better view of this falls so we spotted an informal path branching off the main track just where the overlook railing ended. At that point, we followed along a trail of use (clearly many other people had gone this way before) as went through somewhat of a gully into a grassy area hugging the hill supporting the overlook above. As the informal track went around the hill, we then had to negotiate a steep but small dropoff.

We had met another small group of people who had just done this scramble and encouraged us to give this scramble a try. This dropoff was tall enough that my feet wouldn't touch the ground, but at least that "leap of faith" wasn't very high off the ground so I never feared for my own safety. Actually, the tricky part was on the return when Julie had to give me a boost to get back up the small dropoff, then I had to pull Julie back up so she could scale the dropoff as well. I could imagine how this scramble would be impassable due to mud and slippery rocks.

In any case, once we were below this dropoff, we were on a rounded rocky outcrop just above the Wairoa River where we got the partial profile view you see at the top of this page. We didn't bother scrambling any further as the rounded rock surface was slippery and conspired to make us slip and fall into the river had we chanced it further. Looking further downstream, we saw where the river was much calmer; contrasting the turbulence just further upstream. This scramble took us about 30 minutes round trip.

I had seen in the literature that the most preferred view would be from across the Wairoa River. It looked like in the past, it was accessible but in recent times, it appeared that only the most adventurous could gain such access. At least Te Reinga Falls was allowed to remain (residing in its own reserve) as it was once threatened by hydroelectric power development proposals.

Directions: From Wairoa, we headed north on the SH38 for about 8km into Frasertown, which was where the SH38 junctioned with Tiniroto Road (SH36). Continuing for about 26km on Tiniroto Rd, we then turned left onto Ruakituri Rd, which crossed a long bridge over the Wairoa River. The car park for Te Reinga Falls was on the other side of the bridge.

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Looking over the lip of Te Reinga Falls from the official overlook with a faint rainbow showing itself in the waterfall's mist
The signpost at the car park for Te Reinga FallsThe signpost at the car park for the falls

Julie on the short five-minute track to the sanctioned overlook of Te Reinga FallsJulie on the short five-minute track to the sanctioned overlook of the falls

The disappointing view over the lip of Te Reinga Falls from the official lookoutThe disappointing view over the lip of the falls from the official lookout

Distant angled view of Te Reinga Falls from the outcrop that we scrambled ontoDistant angled view of Te Reinga Falls from the outcrop that we scrambled onto. Note how the outcrop rolled off into the Wairoa River, which was the main reason why we thought any further scrambling to get closer to the falls wouldn't be wise.

A more zoomed in partial look at Te Reinga FallsA more zoomed in partial look at the falls

Looking downstream of Te Reinga Falls towards a much calmer and more open part of the Wairoa RiverLooking downstream of the falls towards a much calmer and more open part of the Wairoa River

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For more information about our experiences with this waterfall, check out the following travel stories.

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