Nestled within the Taheke Scenic Reserve, the Taheke Falls are one of Whangarei’s stunning waterfalls and easily accessible for old and young. With 46 metres in height, they are Northland’s highest waterfall. Unlike the busy Whangarei Falls close to the city centre, Taheke Falls are a bit more off the beaten track and the hike through native bush and regenerating kauri is a tranquil and refreshing alternative for those that want to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
To get to the Taheke Scenic Reserve, leave the Whangarei city centre via Bank Street and Mill Road, then turn right into Whareora Road, following signs towards AH Reed Park and Pataua North. After about 10 kilometers, where Whareora Road turns into Pataua North Road, turn left across a one lane bridge into Hoban Road and follow the signs towards Taheke Falls. The DOC carpark is 2 kilometers down the gravel road from where you start your hike.
The actual track into the Taheke Scenic Reserve starts after a short walk from the car park along Hoban Road. Crossing a concrete bridge over the river, turn right into the bush through a DOC cleaning station. The reserve is mostly regenerating kauri, so extra care should be taken to avoid the spread of Kauri dieback disease. It is recommended to stay on the official pathways which are clearly marked with orange triangles along the treeline.
The first few hundred metres of the track are well maintained until you reach the turnoff to the lookout. From here onwards, the loop walk winds its way through the bush over tree roots, along a narrow fence line and further towards the Kauri gorge. Coming to a junction, you can walk the loop either way, straight ahead or turning right. However, if you prefer walking stairs down rather than up, continue the loop straight from the junction rather than crossing the little footbridge to your right as there is a steep set of stairs waiting for you.
Along the just over 3-kilometre long loop you can spot a variety of native trees and listen to the song of numerous birds including Fantail (piwakawaka) and Tui. There are several smaller streams running through the reserve, some of them which you will cross via boardwalks. The ground can be slippery in the winter time, so extra care is needed, but overall this hike is suitable for any age group and fitness level.
Taheke Waterfall Track: 3km loop track with a 200m detour to the viewing platform, duration: 1.5 to 2h
Shortly after starting your hike, a 200m well maintained detour leads you to a viewing platform overlooking the waterfalls and the Taheke river. There is no access to the river or the falls themselves, but the vista of the scenic reserve stretching across is most rewarding. From here, simply return back to the main track and follow the signs for the loop.
Access to the Taheke Waterfalls Track is via Hoban Road (gravel) with the official DOC car park being located towards the end of the road. It is clearly signposted, but unsupervised. From there it is a short walk along Hoban Road, with the actual track starting on the right-hand side. Vehicle access along Hoban Road past the car park is prohibited and no dogs are allowed within the Scenic Reserve to protect wildlife.
There are no public toilets available in the area, so you need to plan ahead. The track is not accessible for wheelchairs or prams due to it being a bush track with plenty of stairs, tree roots and narrow passages. However, it is a child-friendly walk and suitable for any fitness level.