Okere Falls Track
Okere Falls Track is an easy one-hour return loop above the Kaituna River. It starts near the Okere Falls viewpoint, follows the edge of the gorge through the forest, with a side trip to Tutea Falls and caves, then drops down to a river access point on the road. From there, return the same way or take the higher track back over the top of the ridge.
This is a wonderful picturesque walk with forest, rapids and waterfalls, as well as historical points of interest. Next to the start of the track and Okere Falls viewpoint, there is an old hydro generator. Okere Falls was the fourth location for hydroelectric power generation in NZ, with a plant established around 1900.
It is now long gone, but look down and you will see a rusting section immediately below the viewpoint. And of course you will see the Falls themselves. If you want to walk down to the pool below the falls, there are some steps to a viewpoint near the other end of the car park. This was partly flooded when we visited.
There is a second panel at the start of the track which provides insight into early tourism. It was a popular excursion to boat across Lake Rotorua and up the Ohau Channel to Lake Rotoiti and then the falls, with Māori businesses providing boats and guides. In the 1870s, the road and bridges were built, which led to more visitors, a restaurant, and then the addition of trout in the river. It has continued to be a popular walk, now with adventure tourism options – white water rafting with Rotorua Rafting or ziplining with Rotorua Ziplines.
The Okere Falls Track also provides access to the seven-metre Tutea Falls and Caves, a very worthwhile side-trip.
From State Highway 33 just north of Okere Falls Store, take Trout Pool Road for about 300 metres to the carpark on the right.