Whangarei Falls (pronounced “FAHNG-uh-ray”) was a pleasing 26m rectangular waterfall that we visited while we were staying nearby in the maritime city of Whangarei. The operative word with this waterfall was peaceful. Not only we were mesmerized by the four columns of water plunging side by side each other as we walked the loop track and saw it from several angles, but we were also calmed by the serenity of the reserve, and we even noticed ducks swimming across the wide plunge pool before the base of the falls. Indeed, I could even envision spending more than the 45 minutes we had spent here extending the walk to other attractions (such as the AH Reed Memorial Park to see Kauri Trees as well as another waterfall) or even unwinding with a tranquil picnic as we noticed some inviting picnic tables. It was amazing to Julie and I that such serenity was present even though we were only 5km outside the centre of Whangarei in the Tikipunga suburb and it was an urban waterfall (contrasting our pre-conceptions and limited expectations of urban waterfalls in general).
From the car park, we took a short path that cut through an open grassy area, which quickly led to a lookout where we looked over the brink of the waterfall as well as have a birds-eye view of the picnic area and plunge pool below. We then followed the 1km loop track in an anti-clockwise manner as the track descended (not too steeply) through the base until we ended up at the picnic area we had seen earlier from the top. We then got more views from the bridge spanning Hatea River draining the plunge pool, which then continued the track to the top of the falls, where there were stepping stones to re-cross the stream and return to the lookout near the car park.
From the roundabout joining Walton St and Bank St in the city centre in Whangarei, we headed north on Bank St. After about 1.4km, we then kept right at a fork onto Mill Rd (not going left onto Kamo Rd), which eventually became Kiripaka Rd after another 1.8km. We kept on Kiripaka Rd for another 2.4km when we saw a small street (Boundary Rd) to our right, which we took, then prompty hung another left to get into the car park for the Whangarei Scenic Reserve.
To get to the Walton St and Bank St roundabout mentioned above from SH1, Tarewa Rd, Maunu Rd, and Central Av all head east to that roundabout.
Perhaps the route with the least surface street driving would be to take the SH1 to the Station Rd exit, then go east on Station Rd for about 800m, turning right onto Corks Rd, then continuing for another 2.2km to Kiripaka Rd. Then, turn left onto Kiripaka Rd and drive another 500m or so to Boundary Rd as described above.
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