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Tarawera Outlet, Falls and River

The Tarawera Falls are the most spectacular falls in the Bay of Plenty. The Tarawera River plunges 65m down a sheer cliff before tumbling over bush-lined rapids. The river bed around the falls is carved into ancient volcanic rocks and the high cliffs are thought to be the eroded end face of an ancient lava flow that poured from Mt Tarawera about 11,000 years ago.

The Tarawera Outlet is a pleasant picnic and overnight camping spot. The area is popular with families and sports people who enjoy kayaking, fishing, windsurfing, boating, tramping, swimming, tubing and water skiing. Hot Water Beach, a natural underwater hot spring at Te Rata Bay on the shores of Lake Tarawera is easily reached by boat or kayak from the Tarawera Outlet.

The outlet's large, popular campsite is accessible by car from Kawerau or by boat. Facilities include toilets, cooking shelter and a boat ramp. The water supply comes from the river and requires boiling before use. Fees apply and are payable to the on-site warden. There are signs about the tracks and an interesting panel on Mt Tarawera’s vegetation.

The forest, dominated by pohutukawa and rata, as well as hybrids of the two, is relatively young due to the devastation caused by the eruption of Mt Tarawera in 1886. Native forest birds such as tui, tomtits, fantails and kereru (wood pigeon) can often be seen near the tracks around the falls and river areas. Migrating eels have been seen climbing determinedly over grass, scrub and rock, up the western side of the falls in search of habitats further upstream.

The Tarawera River drains Lake Tarawera to the Bay of Plenty and falls approximately 30m in the 59km from the lake to the sea. The upper reaches of the river contain rapids considered to be world-class kayaking courses. Trout fishing along the length of the river from the Tarawera Falls to Kawerau is outstanding, with rainbow trout averaging 1.5 kg present in high numbers.

Vehicle access to the Tarawera Falls and Outlet is along private forest roads that require an access permit. A small administration fee is charged for each permit issued. Directions and permits are available from the Kawerau i-SITE on Plunket Street, Kawerau. There are restrictions on entering the forest at different times of the year, and certain types of vehicles are prohibited from using the forestry roads. Anyone wishing to visit the Outlet, Campsite and Falls should contact the i-SITE for further information on these restrictions.

Phone: (07) 323 6300 Fax: (07) 323 6300  
Email:  Website: KawerauOnLine Permits: Access Permits


For further information and a brochure on walks in the area click Tarawera Brochure Click to Download Reader 331 Kb.