Waiotemarama Falls (meaning “water of the moon” in Maori) was a petit 5m waterfall that provided Julie and I a very serene experience on its short bush walk. So we didn’t have to do the entire 3-hour loop comprising the Waiotemarama Bush Track to see this waterfall, but Julie and I found it to be our waterfalling excuse to be in the vicinity of kauri trees, which we would end up seeing further down the Kauri Coast in the Waipoua Forest. By the way, Kauri Trees were like the kiwi analog to the Sequoia Trees (giant redwoods) that we were used to seeing back in California, and this further reinforced to us the wonderful diversity and surprises that waterfalling trips like this could provide.
Anyhow, in terms of the walk, we left the car park (see directions below) and proceeded past the swinging gate to get onto the Waiotemarama Bush Walk, which the waterfall track coincided with. The track gently paralleled the gurgling stream, which we can imagine could quickly become a raging torrent under rainier conditions. After a few minutes of walking, we encountered a second swinging gate that opened onto a spur track that briefly led us to a tiny waterfall fringed by dense foliage.
Continuing on the main track, the path undulated and ultimately descended into the shaded reaches of Waiotemarama Falls. We had to scramble over boulders and moss-covered logs to get a closer look, but we had to be careful as this pursuit was wet and slippery. Overall, Julie and I spent around 45 minutes or so on the track, but the signs indicated that it was only a 15-minute walk between the car park and the falls.
Even though there was more than one way of getting to the waterfall, we’ll just describe the way we did it. From the town of Opononi (about 81km southwest of Kerikeri or 90km west of Paihia), we drove another 10.3km south along SH1 to the Waiotemarama Gorge Rd. Turning left onto the mostly unsealed road, we then continued north for a little over 3km to a small car park with a sign indicating the Waiotemarama Bush Walk as well as a swinging gate at the start of the track.
Going in the other direction from Whangarei, we would drive on SH14 west to the junction of SH12 and SH14 in the Kaipara District (formerly Dargaville), then take the SH12 north for the next 76km to Waiotemarama Gorge Rd on the right, and follow the unsealed road north as stated above. Note that the drive on SH12 also passed through the Waipoua Forest, where Julie and I were allowed to get close to some of the giant kauri trees that might be the biggest ones left standing in the world.
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