Okere Falls is tiny but it has such an incredible community built around a passion for the environment they live in
Written by: Jacques Massie
Alright you got me. SNAP! I am definitely biased to this beautiful little town, Okere Falls was like a home away from home for me in my serious kayaking days. But once you see this quaint little community I think you will share my enthusiasm for this simple paradise.
Before I start rambling too much let's get into the Must Knows:
Where the heck is Okere Falls?
Okere Falls is located in the Central North Island of New Zealand and is roughly 20 minutes out of Rotorua and 45 minutes away from Tauranga. If you are based in Rotorua just head towards the Airport (Highway 30), once you reach the airport keep heading down the 30 until you get to a main intersection. This intersection will indicate that you turn right to stay on the 30... DON'T.. keep left and merge onto the 33 towards Mourea. This will take you all the way to Okere Falls. Keep an eye out for the signage because if you blink you will miss the town.
CLICK HERE for directions from Rotorua
CLICK HERE for directions from Tauranga
Top Spots to Visit while in Okere Falls
Okere Falls Store- Okere Falls store is the absolute jam! The coffee is great the food is amazing and the design is so quintessentially Kiwi. The store is a popular break spot for many tourists headed between Rotorua and Tauranga and is a huge influence on the community. I recommend the Pecan Pie. Oh and did I mention they have an amazing selection of beer!
Okere Falls Track- While you are stopped off in town be sure to take a walk down the Okere Falls track. This is arguably one of the most famous rafting sections of river in New Zealand. The Kaituna river finds its origin just across the road from the Okere Falls Store, Lake Rotoiti. The section runs year round but is controlled by flood gates to regulate and control the lake levels. From the store turn left and then left again down Okere Falls Road (it may be sign posted 'Trout Pool Road' this is the correct way). Follow the road to a carpark on your right hand side. You will find the trail head on the far right of this carpark. The track meanders through the bush all the way down to the bottom carpark and Trout Pool Falls. Be sure to take the side tracks and check out the incredible waterfalls along the way. BE PATIENT at Tutea Falls (The big one), you are almost guaranteed to see a raft and some kayakers coming down! Which brings me to my next 'MUST DO.'
Go Rafting Man- There are multiple rafting companies that navigate the Kaituna River so you have a few to pick from and honestly they are all great. Start by checking out Kaituna Cascades and River Rats. You won't regret the experience I guarantee it! Plus you will be going over the highest commercially rafted waterfall in the world at 7 metres! YEOW!
Accomodation and Utilities
There are a few options for overnight stays at Okere Falls including Air BnB and Book a Bach. If you are after a backpackers or hotel then you are best to venture into Rotorua. Rotorua has plenty of options for all price ranges and it is only 20 minutes down the road.
If you are after a toilet while on the hike you have 3 options; Okere Falls Store, the Toilets at the entrance carpark and there is also a port-a-loo at the bottom carpark. Oh and you always have the bush too hahaha. Now let's see some rafting pics!
Okere Falls is definitely not comparable to places like Milford Sound or Queenstown but to me it has a unique attraction... it just feels like an authentic New Zealand town. If you are in Rotorua then make an effort to check out this beautiful little spot. Im getting all teary eyed now because I miss the place so much hahaha. Want to know why I love NZ so much? Read more here...