Waitomo Caves Off The Beaten Path

  • Off The Beaten Path
    by Sduarte
  • Off The Beaten Path
    by Sduarte
  • a picturesque track
    a picturesque track
    by kakapo

Most Recent Off The Beaten Path in Waitomo Caves

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    short walks - #4 Marakopa Falls

    by kakapo Updated Oct 2, 2010
    Marakopa Falls after heavy rain
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    The track to Marakopa Falls starts from a roadside rest area along the Te Anga Road out of Waitomo Village - it is slightly further on from Mangapohue and Piripiri. There is a large green Dept of Conservation sign marking the rest area so it's easy to spot.

    A wide gravel track - not too muddy in heavy rain - takes you down a gentle incline through pretty bush to a viewing platform opposite the falls, which could be heard a long way up the track and were much much larger than I expected.

    I visited after days of heavy rain (the black water trips to the caves were closed due to flooding, so it had been a LOT of rain) and the falls were so torrential that thick spray drenched the viewing platform and made my photographs pretty fuzzy. However, I strongly recommend you do an internet search for other people's images of Marakopa Falls because, despite the conditions, I could see it was spectacular and would be lovely in better weather.

    I believe you can get closer to the bottom of the falls, but due to the treacherous conditions, I did not try.

    The track is a gentle slope and suitable for kids, but you'd need to keep a close eye on them when you reach the water - especially in rough conditions like the day of my visit.

    Ask for details of this and other easy walks at the Waitomo Visitor's Centre - I reckon you could do all four in one day if you have your own transport to get from one to the next.

    Related to:
    • Family Travel
    • Hiking and Walking
    • National/State Park

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  • kakapo's Profile Photo

    short walks - #3 Mangapohue Natural Bridge

    by kakapo Updated Oct 2, 2010
    suspended bridge - Mangapohue walk
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    The walk to Mangapohue Natural Bridge starts from a roadside rest area further along the Te Anga Road from Piripiri - there is a sign at the rest area, so you won't miss it. There are also picnic tables here.

    The first part of the track is a boardwalk, and includes a short suspension bridge (not too wobbly - nothing scary) and sort of takes you along the inside edge of a gorge with the river (creek?) rushing below. There are some wooden stairs in parts (but not as steep as those at Piripiri - or maybe I was used to steps by then!)

    Eventually you come to a huge limestone archway, through which you can see farmland. The boardwalk continues down (many) wooden stairs here, and I understand that you can continue the walk across the paddocks and see some fossils further along, but I did not have time.

    This walk is very picturesque with a tangle of vines and twisted, moss-laden branches overhead, lots of ferns, and in places you can hear water running INSIDE the rock wall behind you.

    Kids could easily do this walk, but they may not enjoy it as much as Ruakuri and Piripiri with their little caves and nooks. (Perhaps you could entice them by suggesting there may be hobbits? it does LOOK like that kind of forest).

    Ask for details of this and other easy walks at the Waitomo Visitor's Centre - I reckon you could do them all in one day if you have your own transport to get from one to the next.

    Related to:
    • Hiking and Walking
    • National/State Park
    • Family Travel

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    Short walks - #2 Piripiri Cave

    by kakapo Updated Oct 2, 2010
    part of the track
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    The walk to Piripiri Cave starts at a roadside rest area (clearly marked Piripiri Cave Scenic Reserve) on the Te Anga Road out of Waitomo Village (towards Marakopa).

    This is a short, easy walk suitable for children over 5, but if you want to see inside the cave (which is free) you will need a torch. (I recommend full supervision of children when inside the cave, as it is dark and the steps were wet and slippery in the rain.)

    Although the track was well marked, the entry to the cave itself was not, but it was just after you climb the wooden stairs - maybe about 5 minutes along the track.

    There is a small entrance, with wooden steps down to a viewing platform inside the cave. In contrast to the unimpressive, small entrance, it was a surprisingly large/ deep cave for a free adventure, with remnants of stalactites - obviously not as impressive as the "pay-to-see" caves around Waitomo, but you can have this cave all to yourself. Pretty cool eh!

    (Sorry about the poor quality photos inside the cave but my camera was soaking wet by then.)

    Ask at the Waitomo Visitor's Centre for details of this and other short walks nearby. I reckon you could do them all in one day if you have your own transport to get from one to the next.

    Related to:
    • Family Travel
    • National/State Park
    • Hiking and Walking

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    short walks - #1 Ruakuri Bushwalk

    by kakapo Updated Oct 2, 2010
    some of the track is a raised boardwalk
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    There are several easy/ moderate short bush walks around Waitomo that will take you (variously) to picturesque rain forests, unexpected caves, impressive natural rock formations or a majestic waterfall. Well worth an extra day after (or before) you visit the caves.

    The Ruakuri Bushwalk starts behind the carpark for Aranui Caves. It is an easy, mostly level walk, suitable I'd say for kids over 5. The Dept of Conservation has built steps (wide and sturdy) to make the steeper bits manageable for those of us who don't usually exert themselves beyond running for the bus, and there are occasional benches to rest your weary bones, or just soak up the greenery.

    This is a pretty, rainforesty walk with twisted, moss-covered trees arching overhead, and giant tree ferns brushing the sky. I visited after heavy rain (when the black-water caves were closed due to flooding) and there was a pretty vigorous creek running through this area, but this may be less of a torrent in dry weather.

    Parts of the walk take you under/ through limestone tunnels, and there are some small "caves" but nothing dangerous (no torch required). Alongside the path you'll also see the creek disappear or reappear from a cave, and flow alongside the path for a while. Even when you can't see it, you can hear the water rushing by.

    I am told that at night you may see glow worms in the forest on this walk.

    The track may be muddy in sections if it's raining, although gravel reduces the muddiness on most stretches, and the canopy keeps you slightly drier than you would be in the open.
    Even in the rain this was a pretty, green walk.

    No entry fee, but I'm not able to tell you how long the walk "normally" takes as I kept stopping to take photos and to just sit look at the thousand shades of green. (Perhaps 60 mins? But best ask the Visitor's Centre instead of me lol! )

    There is plenty of parking, and a picnic area before you enter the track.

    Ask for details of this and other easy walks at the Waitomo Visitor's Centre - I reckon you could do them all in one day if you have your own transport to get from one to the next.

    Related to:
    • Family Travel
    • Hiking and Walking
    • National/State Park

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    Go for a short hike

    by Sduarte Written Nov 12, 2005
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    Right around the Holiday park, we found a trail had that ran along a system of caves and underground rivers. The green was awesome, never seen that color green before.

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Waitomo Caves Off The Beaten Path

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