The Tarawera Falls, accessed via a short walk in Bay of Plenty, are stunning, especially with recent rain and running hard. Instead of flowing over the top of the cliff, the river disappears underground about 30 metres back from the cliff edge and re-emerges through narrow fissures and fractures in the rhyolite lava cliff face.
The top of the cliff is 65 metres, but the highest fissure is a bit lower, with several additional fissures and streams of water further down the face. The cliff was formed by a lava flow during an eruption from Lake Tarawera about 11,000 years ago.
To top it off, the forest surrounding the viewing area is beautiful and perfectly frames the falls. You can scramble down to the rocks below the falls for a closer look. Keep in mind that the local guardians Ngāti Rangitihi consider the falls to be sacred.
The falls are about 600 metres from the Tarawera Falls Road car park and it’s an easy walk along the Tarawera Falls Track.