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Otuihau Whangarei Falls

Image for the Whangarei Falls page.
This page contains information about the tracks at Otuihau Whangarei Falls, including the link to Sands Road. Enjoy a relatively short walk at one of Whangarei's premier destinations, or a longer walk incorporating a second waterfall.
Updated: 18/12/2018 11:29 a.m.

Otuihau Whangarei Falls is a picturesque waterfall, falling vertically for 26.3 metres over basalt cliffs.

Three viewing platforms allow easy access to the dramatic views and a circular walk around the falls allows them to be seen from all angles.

Traditionally this area was a good eeling spot for the local Māori and around the turn of the century it was known as a popular picnic spot from Whangarei.

In the late 1920's Mr Archibald Clapham bought the property, reputedly to prevent the falls being developed as a commercial watermill.

In 1946 a local businessmen's association raised the purchase price by public subscription and the property became a public domain.

Times given are for walking the tracks one way only.


Year by year, the spectacular natural feature that is Otuihau - Whangarei Falls -  is being enhanced with landscape development and improvements. 

During October 2018, Council contractors Robinson Asphalts Ltd will begin $227,424 of improvements due to be completed by the end of 2018. 

Footpaths and drains will be upgraded, new park furniture, garden beds and seating will be installed. A new set of concrete stairs will be constructed from the eastern end of the existing footbridge to the top of the bank. 

While the work is going on, access from the carpark to the base of the falls will be maintained, with only one side of the loop track closed at any given time.

This work follows a series of projects completed over the past few years including extending the carpark, more planting, new paths and steps.

Earlier in 2018, mature trees were removed on the side of the waterfall opposite the carpark to prepare for this season’s work and to open up view shafts of the river, waterfall and reserve opposite. 

Otuihau Whangarei Falls Loop

Grade:         2
Time:           30 minutes
Distance:      1 km

The walk starts at the public car park and crosses the river above the waterfall via a metal bridge. Please exercise caution.

The bridge has been designed for flood water to run over it and there is no hand rail. Some people may not feel comfortable using it.

The surfaced walkway continues through the reserve and down a flight of steps to the base of the falls where there is picnic table and viewing area.

A bridge across the river leads to the walkway which zig-zags back up the hill through mature bush to the car park.

Safety: Care should be taken to stay on the paths and within the confines of the viewing platforms as the ground can be slippery and dangerous.

Sands Road Loop

Grade:          3
Time:           3 hours
Distance:      4.8 km

The Sands Road Loop also starts from the public car park. After crossing the road bridge over the river, a 500 metre walk along the road towards Ngunguru leads to a right turn into Sands Road.

The first part of the road is unsurfaced but is mown and maintained for walkers.

The road leads to Clapham Road and the A H Reed Memorial Kauri Park is about 500 metres on the right.

Tracks through the park lead onto the Hatea River Walkway and back to the Otuihau Whangarei Falls.

Follow the link below to download a printable map of the tracks.

Otuihau Whangarei Falls walkway map [162kb] 

This walk can be done in reverse by starting at the A H Reed Memorial Park. For details about this track and the Hatea River Walkway, select from the links below.

What to expect

  • an easy circular, surfaced walk around the falls, including a flight of steps
  • a longer, easy walk using Sands Road (which includes a short stretch of road walking). Sands Road can get muddy during wet weather or after use by cars.

How to get to Otuihau Whangarei Falls

From Whangarei, take Kiripaka Road (the road north) signposted to Ngunguru and Tutukaka. Otuihau Whangarei Falls is signposted as you leave the suburb of Tikipunga.

Turn right onto Boundary Road into the entrance to the park where a public carpark and toilet facilities are available.

Location:  Boundary Road, Tikipunga, Whangarei


​Track grades

A well made path with
    easy access for most
    people including

2  A short walk generally
    on well made paths
    but may include
    steeper sections.

3  A longer walking track
    usually well made
    including steps and
    more suitable for
    people with
    reasonable fitness.

Summer Safe 

Between December and April, community volunteers will patrol the carpark at this popular spot during daylight hours at weekends and on public holidays.

The aim is to look after our visitors and prevent theft and crime.



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