Owharoa Falls

Karangahake Gorge / Waihi / Kaimai Mamaku Conservation Park, North Island, New Zealand

About Owharoa Falls

Hiking Distance: almost roadside
Suggested Time:

Date first visited: 2010-01-08
Date last visited: 2010-01-08

Waterfall Latitude: -37.41975
Waterfall Longitude: 175.76384

Waterfall Safety and Common Sense

Owharoa Falls was an attractive waterfall that had quite a bit of what Julie likes to say “character” to it.

Not only did this waterfall possess a fair-sized drop at around 10-15m or so, but it also had wide and trapezoidal shape to complement the underlying ripplying texture that yielded this character.

Owharoa_Falls_014_01072010 - Owharoa Falls
Owharoa Falls

Julie and I witnessed some Maori locals who managed to climb up to the middle of the falls before doing a daring plunge into the large plunge pool below.

Their acrobatics even managed to draw some applause from other visitors who just happened to be there.

I guess based on this observation, in addition to its attractiveness, the falls would also make a nice swimming hole to cool off if it would get hot here.

Owharoa Falls was nestled within the Karangahake Gorge, which was known for old gold mining sites as well as the nature of the gorge itself.

Owharoa_Falls_030_01072010 - Angled view of Owharoa Falls from near the end of the plunge pool
Angled view of Owharoa Falls from near the end of the plunge pool

We didn’t visit those historical mines as we were only content to spend time at just the falls.

That said, we did make the very short walk from the roadside pullouts (see directions below) to the plunge pool.

That was when we also noticed another upper tier of Owharoa Falls further upstream that was mostly hidden.

I guess it kind of teased us into imagining that there could be much more to this waterfall than what meets the eye.

Owharoa_Falls_035_01072010 - Looking in the distance towards a hidden upper tier above the main drop of Owharoa Falls
Looking in the distance towards a hidden upper tier above the main drop of Owharoa Falls

After visiting Owharoa Falls, we then continued our drive to the surf town of Whangamata.

Just 15 minutes prior to visiting the falls, we actually made the kitchy stop to the big L&P (that’s Lemon & Paeroa) bottle in the town of Paeroa.

It turned out that this town was known as the home of the beverage that Kiwis (i.e. New Zealanders) like to drink.


Owharoa Falls resides in the Karangahake Gorge, which in turn resides in the Kaimai Mamaku Conservation Park near Waihi in the Bay of Plenty region of North Island, New Zealand. It is administered under the jurisdiction of the Department of Conservation. For information or inquiries about the area as well as current conditions, visit their website.

Owharoa_Falls_033_01072010 - The walk to the base of Owharoa Falls
Owharoa_Falls_002_01072010 - A local Maori checks out the Owharoa Falls from across its wide plunge pool
Owharoa_Falls_010_01072010 - A couple of Maori folks chilling out beneath Owharoa Falls just when we arrived
Owharoa_Falls_017_01072010 - A closer look at Owharoa Falls with a Maori individual about to jump from a ledge in the middle of the falls

Owharoa Falls was right off the Waitawheta Rd a little over 12km east of Paeroa (yes, that’s the town where the famous L & P or Lemon and Paeroa soft drink was created) or 9km west of Waihi along SH2.

Given the high rate of speed of SH2, this turnoff was somewhat easy to blow past so we really had to be careful of oncoming traffic as well as slowing down to ensure we wouldn’t miss the turnoff.

Once we made the turn south onto Waitawheta Rd, we crossed the bridge over the Ohinemuri River and then continued barely 0.2km looking for a place to park on the right side.

We could tell we were in the right place because we noticed the falls off to the right prior to stopping the car.

For further geographical context, the beach town of Waihi was 30km (over 30 minutes drive) south of Whangamata and 143km (over 2 hours drive) southeast of Auckland.

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Short bottom up sweep of the falls with a Maori person who climbed to the middle of the falls

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Tagged with: thames, coromandel, waikato, north island, new zealand, waterfall, karangahake, waihi, paeroa, whangamata

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Johnny Cheng

About Johnny Cheng

Johnny Cheng is the founder of the World of Waterfalls and author of the award-winning A Guide to New Zealand Waterfalls. Over the last 2 decades, he has visited thousands of waterfalls in over 40 countries around the world and nearly 40 states in the USA.
Read More About Johnny | A Guide to New Zealand Waterfalls.