Kerikeri River Walk

The Kerikeri River Walk is a scenic and easy, well-maintained walk alongside the Kerikeri River. In addition to generally following the river, it takes in two waterfalls and some modest rapids, recovering native forest, carved-out embankments and rock falls, farmland and suburban fringe. The most popular section runs from Kerikeri Basin to Rainbow Falls, a bit over an hour each way. Parking is available at the east end of the track by the Stone Store or in the reserve on the west side of the river. You can also access the track from Rainbow Falls Road. The track is also part of Te Araroa.

The walk has several distinct sections. It starts by crossing the grassy reserve to the west. It enters a strip of regenerating native forest, dominated by young totara trees, supported by the odd mature tree. Along the way are views of the river, with the opposite side mainly covered in tall, mature, exotic eucalypt trees. It climbs briefly within the forest to a rocky cliff face, long carved out by the river and marked by several old rock slips. Some amazingly gnarled puriri trees feature on this part of the track.

After 20 minutes, you reach the small Historic Power Station and just after that is Wharepoke Falls. After the falls, there is more totara regrowth before the track opens up into scrub, crosses under the Heritage Bypass road, and then follows a fence line on the edge of farmland.

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After leaving the fenceline, the track runs closer to the river. Some sections are 20 to 30 metres above the river with steep but bush-clad drops. This provides some pretty views across and along the river.

There is one location where the river is accessible, with a reasonably obvious side track. You will see some relatively sedate rapids; the section above is called Fairy Pools. However, the sign for the pools is a bit further on where there is no obvious access. Plus, some wag has removed the “l”, so it reads as Fairy Poos. In any event, no one had chosen to swim there when we walked through.

Not long after Fairy Pools, you start to see kauri trees on both sides of the river, which explains the shoe-cleaning station at the start of the track. Some trees are a good height and look at least 150 years old, with crowns starting to appear. The predecessors were probably among the first kauri milled in NZ to support the first European buildings, including Mission House.

Towards the end of the walk, you will hear Rainbow Falls, arguably one of the most photogenic falls on the North Island. After visiting the large swimming hole below the falls, walk to the viewpoints at the top before heading back.

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