McLaren Falls

McLaren Falls

McLaren Falls is a short deviation from State Highway 29, about 20 minutes west of Tauranga. Parking is on your left as you drive in. From there you can walk onto the pedestrian bridge in front of the falls for the best view. McLaren Falls Park is a further 300 metres along the road.

The water flows over a sprawling rock platform below the intersection of the Mangakarengorengo River and the outlet from Lake McLaren, and them into the Wairoa River. The waterfall has long been affected by the development of hydro power around the region and generally has a gentle flow. To the right of the bridge, there is a decommissioned power station that goes back to the 1920s.

The low water flow does make it easy to safely access and hang out on the rock platform most of the time. But on the day we visited, it was much more dynamic. After days of heavy rain, accessing the rock platform was the last thing on our minds. Visiting during heightened flows is much more spectacular if you’re not planning on getting in.

McLaren Falls also has a reputation as being associated with death. The given name commemorates a soldier killed in WW1 and there have since been several murders and drownings associated with the place. This history does not seem to stop anyone from ignoring the danger signs and jumping from the bridge!

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