Kakahi Falls

Hell's Gate / Tikitere / near Rotorua, Bay of Plenty Region (North Island), New Zealand

Rating: 1     Difficulty: 1
Kakahi Falls

TABLE OF CONTENTS



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INTRODUCTION

Kakahi Falls was our waterfalling excuse to check out the Hell's Gate Thermal Reserva and Spa. What made this waterfall different from most of the others we had seen was that it was said to be the tallest thermal waterfall in the Southern Hemisphere. I'm not certain if this lofty claim was true or not because this waterfall was barely 12m high, and later on in our November 2004 trip to New Zealand, we would see a much taller waterfall along the Tongariro Crossing whose stream was also a geothermically-heated stream. In any case, the hot sulphurous waters of Kakahi Falls were said to be traditionally used by the Maori for bathing and healing. During our visit, the falls were off limits for bathing.

To get to the waterfall, Julie and I paid our $25 NZD fee per adult (as of November 2004) to enter the facility, then explore the geothermal reserve that consisted of bubbling mud pools, acidic lakes, sulphur fumaroles, and roaring sinter cones. The thermal features had colourful names like the Devil's Bath, Baby Adam, Sulphur Bath, Inferno, and Spraying Pool, among others. So that kind of attested to the hellish nature of these features. We definitely were content with seeing the features while not coming close to touching them.

We eventually took a signed spur to Kakahi Falls where we went on a short native bush walk past the Cold Water Pond before reaching the lookout resulting in the photo you see at the top of this page. Back on the main path, we actually kept going on the loop walk to the backside of the Hell's Gate reserve going through the steamy and seemingly desolate Sulphur Crystal Valley, which had more features with names like the Devil's Throat, Devil's Cauldron, the Mud Volcano, Steaming Cliffs, Hot Sulphur Lakes, the Cooking Pool, and the pale green Sulphur Lake. Indeed, with such place names, it made us wonder if we really were experiencing Hell on Earth.




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PHOTO JOURNAL

Hell's Gate was barely 15km or so northeast of Rotorua, which featured the Te Whakarewarewa Thermal Reserve, which itself featured the Prince of Wales and Pohutu GeysersHell's Gate was barely 15km or so northeast of Rotorua, which featured the Te Whakarewarewa Thermal Reserve, which itself featured the Prince of Wales and Pohutu Geysers
About 30 minutes drive south of Rotorua was the Wai-o-tapu Thermal Reserve, which not only had the Lady Knox Geyser, but it also featured colourful pools like this oneAbout 30 minutes drive south of Rotorua was the Wai-o-tapu Thermal Reserve, which not only had the Lady Knox Geyser, but it also featured colourful pools like this one
This was the Lady Knox Geyser where we showed up just in time for its controlled eruption (i.e. an employee dropping some kind of soap into the vent to induce the eruption)This was the Lady Knox Geyser where we showed up just in time for its controlled eruption (i.e. an employee dropping some kind of soap into the vent to induce the eruption)
When we got past the entrance facility of Hell's Gate, that was when we walked besides mud pools such as this oneWhen we got past the entrance facility of Hell's Gate, that was when we walked besides mud pools such as this one

Looking over some other mud or sulphur pools of Hell's GateLooking over some other mud or sulphur pools of Hell's Gate

This was a dark and really smelly mud pool that was boiling with bubbles splattering the mudThis was a dark and really smelly mud pool that was boiling with bubbles splattering the mud

Direct look at Kakahi FallsDirect look at Kakahi Falls

Closer look at Kakahi Falls and the stream cutting between the bushCloser look at Kakahi Falls and the stream cutting between the bush

Beyond Kakahi Falls, we kept exploring Hell's GateBeyond the falls, we kept exploring Hell's Gate

Here was a smaller dark and boiling mud poolHere was a smaller dark and boiling mud pool

This dark sinter cone might have been a mud volcanoThis dark sinter cone might have been a mud volcano

In the farthest reaches of Hell's Gate, we saw this menacing-looking highly acidic sulphur lakeIn the farthest reaches of Hell's Gate, we saw this menacing-looking highly acidic sulphur lake

Back at the entrance facility where peacocks like this one was strutting aboutBack at the entrance facility where peacocks like this one was strutting about


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VIDEOS OF THE FALLS




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DRIVING DIRECTIONS

From the SH30/SH30A junction at the east end of Rotorua, we headed east on the SH30 (Te Ngae Rd). About 10km east of the SH30/SH30A junction along the eastern shores of Lake Rotorua, the SH30 and SH33 made a junction. We veered to the right at this junction to remain on the SH30, and then after about 5km, we saw the Hell's Gate facility just before Lake Rotakawau Rd.

For context, Rotorua was about 3 hours drive southeast of Auckland or just about 90 minutes drive east of Hamilton. It's also under an hours drive south of Tauranga.




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ITINERARIES

For more information about our itineraries involving this waterfall, check out the following links.




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MAP OF THE FALLS



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TRIP REPORTS

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




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TRIP PLANNING RESOURCES




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NEARBY WATERFALLS




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RELATED PAGES



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