Rainbow Falls

Bay of Islands / Kerikeri, North Island, New Zealand

About Rainbow Falls

Hiking Distance: 200m round trip
Suggested Time: 10-20 minutes

Date first visited: 2004-11-08
Date last visited: 2004-11-08

Waterfall Latitude: -35.21435
Waterfall Longitude: 173.94212

Waterfall Safety and Common Sense

Rainbow Falls was a very nice waterfall that eerily reminded me of how Whangarei Falls looked, which we had seen just the day before seeing this one.

Not only did they look the same, they had similar height (27m as opposed to 26m for Whangarei Falls).

Rainbow_Falls_019_11072004 - Rainbow Falls
Rainbow Falls

They both had vertical plunges in that classic rectangular (almost square) block shape.

Moreover, we saw them both from their tops as well as from right across the plunge pool (as shown above).

Perhaps the only thing keeping these two waterfalls from being dead ringers was that Rainbow Falls seemed to have a bit more flow than Whangarei Falls so it appeared less segmented.

Julie and I happened to visit on a warm and sunny day in the far north of New Zealand’s North Island (roughly half-way between Whangarei and Cape Reinga at the far northern tip).

Rainbow_Falls_001_11072004 - Angled view of Rainbow Falls from the rim of its gorge
Angled view of Rainbow Falls from the rim of its gorge

Even though we were kind of looking against the early afternoon sun, the good weather made us chill as we admired the attraction before us.

We were told by other visitors that it was possible to scramble towards the backside of the falls (which we didn’t do). In fact, we saw some brave young guys do just that.

We happened to see the same daredevils stand at the edge of the top of the waterfall before we made the walk down to the waterfall’s base.

Walks Around Rainbow Falls

Speaking of the walk, it was a very short five-minute walk that went by a view at the brink of the falls.

Rainbow_Falls_011_11072004 - Looking down over the brink of Rainbow Falls
Looking down over the brink of Rainbow Falls

The track then descended towards a bench conveniently placed by the plunge pool across from the falls itself.

Had we allowed ourselves more time, we could’ve extended this walk into a longer 4km (8km round trip) Kerikeri River Track.

That longer track passed by the Wharepoke Falls and the Fairy Pools.

We could have also done the river track as a one-way shuttle hike though I’m not sure how the transport arrangements would be made easily without having two cars (typically not an option for most visitors).


Rainbow Falls resides in the Kerikeri area in the Northland 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.

Rainbow_Falls_004_11072004 - Angled look at Rainbow Falls as we approached its top
Rainbow_Falls_008_11072004 - This dude was standing quite dangerously close to the edge of Rainbow Falls, but he also demonstrated to us that you could scramble to the backside of the falls later on
Rainbow_Falls_011_jx_11072004 - Looking directly at Rainbow Falls from across its wide plunge pool that looked real inviting for a swim
Rainbow_Falls_015_jx_11072004 - Instead of a swim, we just decided to chill out and admire Rainbow Falls from the bench that was provided there
Rainbow_Falls_014_11072004 - Crooked portrait view of Rainbow Falls

Rainbow Falls was across the Kerkeri River from the town of Kerikeri.

Since we drove up there from Paihia in the Bay of Islands, we’ll describe the driving options from there.

The most straightforward way get here from Paihia would be to drive Marsden Rd north to Puketona Rd (Now Black Bridge Rd SH11).

Then, we’d turn left and follow this road all the way to State Highway 10 (roughly 14km from the town centre).

Next, we’d turn right and go about 13km to the Waipapa Rd exit, and go east on Waipapa Rd.

After about 2.2km, Rainbow Falls Rd would be on the right.

We’d ultimately follow this road for another kilometre before reaching the well-signed car park.

Julie and I actually took a little bit more of a roundabout approach as we went from Paihia to SH10 as mentioned above.

But instead of exiting at Waipapa Rd, we exited earlier at Kerikeri Rd (under 7km from the SH10 and SH11 junction), then we drove through the town of Kerikeri.

Afterwards, we crossed the Kerikeri River at Landing Rd, then turned left onto Waipapa Rd (a little over 6km from SH10).

The signposted turnoff for the falls was then on the left after about 2km.

At that point, we then took the signposted spur road to the car park on the right after about 1km as mentioned above.

For some context, Paihia was over 3 hours drive (227km) from Auckland along State Highway 1.

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Tagged with: kerikeri, northland, north island, bay of islands, wharepoke falls, paihia, cape reinga, new zealand, waterfall

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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.
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