Totarapapa Falls

Te Urewera National Park, North Island, New Zealand

About Totarapapa Falls

Hiking Distance: roadside
Suggested Time:

Date first visited: 2004-11-15
Date last visited: 2004-11-15

Waterfall Latitude: -38.64857
Waterfall Longitude: 176.89964

Waterfall Safety and Common Sense


Totarapapa Falls was a waterfall that Julie and I completely stumbled upon as we were driving from Rotorua to Wairoa through the rugged Te Urewera National Park.

Indeed, if it wasn’t for a signpost along the unsealed road pointing it out, we would have passed by it without ever knowing it was there.

Speaking of which, the mostly unsealed route was said to be 222km (of which 120km of it was unsealed).

Totarapapa Falls

I had read that the road was rumoured to break up marriages because it appeared as a shortcut on maps, but the experience would be anything but.

In any case, the unanticipated waterfall stop was certainly what we needed at the time considering the long and bumpy drive that we were in for.

That said, the falls seemed to be mostly hidden amongst the bush. Even though some topographic maps listed this waterfall at 45m tall, it seemed like we were only able to see perhaps only 10m of it as shown in the photo above.

Although this waterfall was a short roadside stop for us, the rain started coming down just as we showed up so we didn’t linger around for too much.

It might have been possible to observe and experience a bit more than what we were able to see.

However, given the circumstances and the long route ahead of us, there’s not much more we can say about this falls.


Totarapapa Falls is administered under the jurisdiction of the Department of Conservation. For information or inquiries about the area as well as current conditions, visit their website.



From the SH5/SH30A junction in the centre of Rotorua, we headed south on the SH5 for about 25km to its junction with SH38. We then kept left to continue on SH38, which ultimately became unsealed after passing through the town of Murupara. After around 77km on SH38, that was when we noticed the sign for the falls.

If you go in the opposite direction from Wairoa, it would be a nearly 3 hour drive (117km) on mostly unsealed roads through Te Urewera National Park to get to the falls. Wairoa was about 90 minutes drive northeast of the Art Deco town of Napier or over 3 hours drive southeast of Taupo. Taupo was a little over an hour drive south of Rotorua.

For some additional context, Rotorua was about 3 hours drive southeast of Auckland or just about 90 minutes drive east of Hamilton.

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Tagged with: urewera, bay of plenty, hawkes bay, north island, new zealand, waterfall, waikaremoana, wairoa, rotorua, tuai

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