Marokopa Falls was Julie’s kind of waterfall as it featured a satisfyingly classic block shape with a reported height of 35m. For us it was a no-brainer to make the extra drive west of the famous Waitomo Caves (well known for harbouring glow worms) to visit what could very well be the North Island’s prettiest waterfall. Along the way, we saw the attractive Mangapohue Natural Bridge, which also had rocks in the area full of fossils of ancient sea life. In addition, there was also the Piripiri Caves (which we didn’t visit) so there was definitely a plethora of sights in the area.
We actually visited this waterfall on two separate occasions. The first time was in November 2004 while the second time was in January 2010. It was reassuring to see that not much had changed with this waterfall over the years, which was how it should be. In any case, visiting the year-round falls was pretty straightforward as we went on a short 20-minute return walk from the roadside pullout to the damp lookout yielding the photo you see at the top of this page. On both times we showed up at the lookout, the ground at the lookout was a bit muddy, which was undoubtedly from a combination of rain and the spray from Marokopa Falls itself attesting to the volume of the Marokopa River.
From the SH3 and SH1 junction at the south end of Hamilton (Hamilton was about 123km or 90 minutes drive south of Auckland), we drove about 67km south on the SH3 to the turnoff with SH37 (Waitomo Caves Rd). We then turned right onto SH37 and drive west. At about 8km from SH3 was the large car park for the Waitomo Caves. SH37 became Te Anga Rd beyond the caves. About 26km west of Waitomo Caves was the start of the short walk to the Mangapohue Natural Bridge. About 2km further west (28km west of Waitomo Caves) was the Piripiri Caves. Finally at about 30km west of Waitomo Caves (about 4km west of Mangapohue Natural Bridge) was the signposted pullout for Marokopa Falls.
We also drove northwards from New Plymouth (361km or 4.5 hours drive south of Auckland, or 352km or 4.5 hours drive north of Wellington). That involved driving 173km on SH3 (it took us on the order of 2.5-3 hours) until we reached the junction with SH37. Then we went west (as described above) on SH37 for about 38km (30-45 minutes drive) to the Waitomo Caves.
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