Are you on the hunt for a cool hike in New Zealand’s North Island that won’t take you the whole day? Taranaki Falls Walk is the one for you!
Located at the foot of Mt. Ruapehu, this short 6 km loop track offers hikers and nature lovers spectacular views of cascading waterfalls and verdant alpine forest in the summer, and stunning snow in the winter.
I have put together this complete guide to visiting Taranaki Waterfalls to help you plan your trip.
TARANAKI FALLS – OVERVIEW
Taranaki Falls Walk in Tongariro National Park is a short but rewarding hike that takes you through an amazing forest and ends up at one of New Zealand’s most spectacular waterfalls.
Before going into more details about the waterfall itself, let’s discuss the essentials.
- Difficulty: Easy
- Track style: Loop
- Distance: 6km round-trip
- How Long: About 2 hours
- Amenities: Public toilets, car park
WHERE IS TARANAKI FALLS?
The Taranaki Falls Walk begins at Whakapapa Village Visitor Centre car park in Tongariro National Park, located on State Highway 48.
Tongariro National Park is in central North Island in New Zealand.
HOW TO GET TO TARANAKI FALLS?
The easiest way to get to Taranaki Waterfalls is to rent a car and drive to Whakapapa Village.
From here, you can park your vehicle safely at Taranaki Falls carpark where the trailhead is located, and you’ll be able to start the hike to the falls.
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BEST TIME TO VISIT?
The best time to visit Taranaki Falls is in the morning and before sunset.
In the morning, you won’t see many people on the loop, and before sunset, you’ll have stunning views of Mount Ngauruhoe in the background!
Season-wise, if you plan to visit the North Island during the summertime, then it’s a great time to visit with blue skies. Note that the falls remain cold even in the summer.
On the other hand, when visiting in the winter, it’s still safe, and the snow adds a layer of uniqueness, which is excellent for photographers.
ENTRANCE FEE & OPENING TIMES
The track is always open and you can access it any time of the day, every day. Also, there is no entrance fee.
The parking is free, but there are only a few spots, so I recommend coming early or in the late afternoon when most visitors already left.
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ARRIVING AT TARARAKI FALLS TRACK
After getting to Whakapapa Village and parking your car at the Taranaki Falls Carpark, you’ll be ready to begin the walk.
At the trailhead, you’ll find signage to help you along the track, which is generally in very good condition.
You can either start the walk at the lower point or the upper track. I recommend taking the upper trail first to get to the top of Tanaraki Falls.
There are a few steps on the track, so get prepared for that. Also, several sections of the track aren’t covered, and you’ll want to bring sunscreen – don’t make the same mistake as I did!
WHAT TO EXPECT AT TARANAKI WATERFALLS
Once you get to the waterfalls, you’ll be ready to take some photos, jump in the water if you’re feeling adventurous, and explore around.
You can take a rest and have a snack at the falls as there are some picnic tables, which is very convenient.
After a quick break, you can continue to the viewpoint, which is between Mount Ruapehu and Mount Ngauruhoe. Needless to say, this is the perfect place for epic photos!
Once you’re done, head back to the car park and I recommend using the other part of the loop – the upper track if you started on the lower track, or vice versa.
Or, in other words, clockwise or anti-clockwise.
TARANAKI FALLS WALK – FAQ
Now that we’ve covered everything about the walk, here are some answers to the most frequently asked questions from first-time visitors.
WHERE DOES THE TARANAKI FALLS TRACK START?
The Taranaki Falls Track starts near the Taranaki Falls Carpark, and you can begin the walk from both the upper track and lower track here.
WHERE DOES THE TARANAKI FALLS TRACK END?
Since it’s a loop track, it ends where it starts, at the car park not far from the Tongariro National Park Visitor Centre.
HOW TALL IS TARANAKI FALLS?
This impressive waterfall stands at a height of 20 meters and you’ll be able to take awesome shots with the rocks and mountain in the background.
HOW LONG IS THE TARANAKI FALLS WALK?
It takes about 2 hours to complete the Taranaki Falls walk taking a few photos and snack breaks along the way.
Some hikers do it in less than that, but I took it easy, and I recommend you do too!
HOW HARD IS THE TARANAKI FALLS TRACK?
The Taranaki Falls track is a beautiful, relatively easy hike that is perfect for beginners and seasoned hikers.
With stunning scenic views and well-maintained paths, this hike is great for those wanting to explore the outdoors without exerting themselves too much.
Plus, if you plan to do the Mangawhero Falls or other tracks, this is a good lead-up to it.
ARE DOGS ALLOWED ON THE TRACK?
Dogs are not allowed, unfortunately, so you’ll have to leave your puppy at home.
WHAT TO PACK FOR TARANAKI WATERFALLS?
Before going, there are a few essentials that you should pack to make the most of your time at the Taranaki Waterfalls, which are:
- Your camera!
- First aid kit
- Food and water
- Sunglasses and sunscreen
- Comfortable boots or shoes
- Raincoat, jacket, and over pants (if coming in the winter)
- Warm layers – again, if you’re coming in the winter
I highly recommend packing a raincoat and water and wind-proof clothing such as a jacket and overtrousers, as showers are common around here.
Comfortable shoes or boots are a must to be comfortable while exploring the rocky terrain. While there are steps here and there, having sturdy shoes always help.
Food and plenty of water are also vital to replenish your energy and stay hydrated. Plus, you’ll be able to have a quick break at the picnic area!
WHERE TO STAY IN TONGARIRO NATIONAL PARK
There are dozens of accommodations around the Tongariro National Park to choose from, so I have narrowed it down to a few of the best places to stay to suit the needs of luxury travelers, budget backpackers, and everyone in between.
See the list of accommodations in Tongariro National Park below that I personally recommend:
LUXURY: TWO RIVERS OHAKUNE
MID-RANGE: KINGS OHAKUNE
BUDGET: NATIONAL PARK ALPINE LODGE
FOR ALL OTHER PLACES TO STAY IN TONGARIRO NP, SEARCH ON BOOKING.COM
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WHAT TO PACK FOR NEW ZEALAND
When visiting New Zealand, here is a list of items I highly recommend bringing with you:
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I hope you have enjoyed reading this article and if you have any questions at all, please leave a comment below this post and I will reply as soon as I can.
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THANKS FOR READING
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