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Although the Bay of Plenty may be known for its glorious white-sand beaches, head into the hinterland and you’ll discover fresh mountain water cascading through lush forest. Don’t be put off by wet weather – that's when waterfalls are most spectacular. 

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KAIATE FALLS (TE REREKAWA), TAURANGA

Follow the track and a series of stone steps and you’ll discover Kaiate Falls – a cascading tumble of falls that you can admire from different stops along your walk. Just 30-minutes' drive from Tauranga city and you’ll be at the car park for your 60-minute return walk. The car park is your last toilet stop as there are none on the track. Kaiate Falls is a popular spot to cool off on a hot day or don your coat and make the most of the rain.

Location: Kaiate Falls Road, Waitao, Tauranga 

Dogs: Yes 

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MCLAREN FALLS, TAURANGA

A local’s favourite swimming spot during the summer months, McLaren Falls are a sight to behold. You can view the falls from the bridge (on foot or by car) or take a dip in the rock pools above. Inside McLaren Falls Park and at the end of a 10-minute walk lined with silver ferns is another waterfall waiting to be discovered. There are toilets, a campground and a cafe inside the park. 

Location: McLaren Falls Road, Lower Kaimai, Tauranga 

Dogs: No

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WHATAROA FALLS, TAURANGA

The Otanewainuku Forest is one of New Zealand’s best examples of unlogged native forest. The two-hour return Whataroa Waterfall track takes you through towering Rimu trees and finishes at a waterfall perfect for a picnic. You may even run into a Kiwi bird thanks to the work of the Otanewainuku Kiwi Trust and the Department of Conservation. The North Island Brown Kiwi population has been protected in Otanewainuku since the ‘90s. 

Located: Mountain Road, Ōropi, Tauranga  

Dogs: No  

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RAPARAPAHOE FALLS, TE PUKE 

Raparapahoe Falls is a 3-metre high waterfall that plunges into a cool and clear pool. This Te Puke gem is accessible by a steep and rough 1-kilometre track – it can get slippery so leave your jandals at home. The view from the bottom is breath-taking. 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 

Homunga Bay

HOMUNGA BAY, WAIHĪ BEACH

Take the scenic coastal cliff walk from Waihī Beach to Orokawa Bay and then keep going to Homunga Bay - it’s worth it. It’s not often you find waterfalls on beaches but this one sprinkles down a rockface and lands directly onto the sand. 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. 

Located: The Esplanade, Waihī Beach

Dogs: No

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WHIRINAKI TE PUA-A-TĀNE WATERFALL LOOP TRACK, SOUTHERN BAY OF PLENTY  

Deep in the central North Island lies an ancient forest with cool mountain air and clear rushing water. This ancient podocarp forest is rich in native birdsong and is home to 51 endangered species and native trees towering over 60 metres tall. The Waterfall Loop Track is an easy stroll to the thunderous falls. There is also a picnic table and a toilet at the waterfall. 

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

Dogs: No

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WAIRERE FALLS, WHAKATĀNE  

Te Wairere Falls is a sacred landmark to all who descend from the Mātaatua waka. The site was made a scenic reserve in 1971 and remains one of the most beautiful and historically significant places in Whakatāne. The stream supplied fresh water to the town until 1924. Wairere Falls is easily accessible from the Whakatāne town centre. 

Located: Toroa Street, Whakatāne 

Dogs: Yes 

Please make sure you take your rubbish with you.  

Always check whether dogs are permitted before you go. Special places in the Bay of Plenty, like the Otanewainuku Forest, are home to vulnerable Kiwi chicks and other native birds.  

The Bay of Plenty is the only place in Aotearoa without kauri dieback disease, so please scrub your shoes, spray them with antiseptic (if provided) and stay on the track.

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