The best places to take a dip

The freshwater swimming spots in the Bay of Plenty are cool, clear and refreshing; perfect for escaping that summer heat and rinsing off the sand between your toes.

Agongatete waterfall Tourism bay of Plenty


Enjoy an easy 30-minute bush walk along the Aongatete Link Track while keeping an eye out for the sign that points towards these delightful swimming holes.

There’s a small waterfall and plenty of spots to relax, paddle, swim and explore upstream or downstream. You’ll need to scramble over the boulders near the water though (which any kids that may be tagging along will enjoy doing).

Location: The Aongatete tracks start at the car park at the end of Wright Road, off SH 2 between Tauranga and Katikati, towards the Aongatete Outdoor Education Lodge. Park in the car park before the gate to the lodge.

Dogs: No


Raparapahoe Falls is a 3-metre high waterfall that plunges into a cool and clear pool that will literally take your breath away. This Te Puke waterfall is accessible by a steep and rough one-kilometre track that will take you approximately 15-minutes each way. There are plenty of steps and the track can be slippery as it zig-zags down into the valley, so maybe leave your jandals at home. The view from the bottom is a sight to behold. Cliffs and a fringe of native punga trees rise sharply above the blue pool of water.

Location: 282 Number 4 Road, Te Puke

Dogs: Yes

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The pools of water beneath and above the bridge when you enter McLaren Falls (pictured) are the local’s favourite swimming spots during the summer months. With a cascading waterfall and trees on either side, the Falls are a scenic spot to spend an afternoon. If you prefer calmer waters, Lake McLaren inside the park has plenty of spots to swim in that are great for children. Surrounding Lake McLaren are picnic tables, BBQs, toilets, camping spots, the delicious Falls Café, and, of course, one of New Zealand’s best botanical tree collections.

Location: McLaren Falls Road, Lower Kaimai, Tauranga

Dogs: No



If you’re still searching for adventure after the scenic coastal cliff walk from Waihī Beach to Orokawa Bay, head to the next bay over, Homunga Bay. The waterfall sprinkles down a rockface and lands directly onto the beach, making it the perfect freshwater shower to rinse off under after a swim in the sea. The walk from Waihī Beach over to Orokawa Bay is 45-minutes one way, and then Homunga Bay is an additional 1.5-hours walk one way. These secluded beaches are perfect for families and adventurers looking to avoid the crowds.

Located: The Esplanade, Waihī Beach

Dogs: No



The Ōtanewainuku Forest is one of New Zealand’s best examples of unlogged native flora and fauna, with clear and cool streams running throughout. The two-hour return Whataroa Waterfall track takes you through towering Rimu trees and finishes at a cascading waterfall perfect for a picnic and a cool off. You may even run into a Kiwi bird thanks to the work of the Ōtanewainuku Kiwi Trust and the Department of Conservation which have been protecting the North Island Brown Kiwi population there since the ‘90s.

Located: Mountain Road, Ōropi, Tauranga

Dogs: No




The Whirinaki Forest boasts some of the clearest freshwater rivers in the North Island; combined with their chilly temperature, the rivers make for a refreshing dip! Nearly all the Whirinaki tracks and huts are along rivers or streams and make the perfect spot to cool off in after a long summer’s day of walking, hiking or mountain biking. The Whirinaki River runs next to the Central Whirinaki Hut and has a deep pool surrounded by one of the world’s greatest old-growth forests.

Located: Whirinaki Forest Car Park, River Road, Whirinaki Forest Park

Dogs: No Instagram 2901 ig 17913436367238122

Pori Pori is one of the Bay’s best-known freshwater swimming spots. The popular swimming hole is ideal for when you’ve had enough salt from New Zealand’s best beaches. Pori Pori gets all day sun so the freshwater is relatively warm and the surrounding rocks make great platforms for doing bombs from. There is a great variety of swimming holes and rock pools of varying depth, so there’s something for both the small kids and the big kids. The rocks that line the Pori Pori River heat up during the day making them toasty spots to sunbathe on and warm up before jumping in the water again.

Trustpower releases water from the McLaren Falls Dam upstream of the Pori Pori swimming hole over the summer months. It is not safe to swim or attempt to cross the river before or during a water release as it causes a significant and rapid rise in water levels. Check the Trustpower website for up-to-date information on the scheduled release dates and also know that water may be released at any time as part of normal functions of hydro-electric power generation. Please follow all safety notices, warning signs and sirens at all times.

Location: 10 Poripori Road, Tauriko, Lower Kaimai

Dogs: Yes

When departing, please take your rubbish with you.

Please check whether dogs are permitted if you're intending to take one along because some places, like Ōtanewainuku Forest, are home to vulnerable Kiwi chicks and other native birds.

Please adhere to any signs that have been erected to ensure public safety or to protect environmentally or culturally significant areas.