Fifty minutes southeast of Auckland is an absolute jewel. The Hunua Falls Reserve is an idyllic day trip from the city. The drive is more or less down SH1, so it isn’t always serenely rural, but it does mean the drive is quick. There is ample parking at the entrance to the reserve, decent toilets, and lots of areas to picnic. The one downside is that it is so close to Auckland that it was VERY busy on a beautiful weekend day. We saw all kinds of folks exploring the Hunua Falls reserve, including one large group of morel photographers with the most impressive camera setups I’ve ever seen.
Hunua Falls is one of the regions affected by Kauri Dieback, so there are strict biosecurity measures at the entrance and exit. You’ll need to scrub and spray your shoes upon entering and leaving. Once you’ve cleared the shoe cleaning area, you’ll reach a narrow bridge that leads to the reserve.
There is a very short walk to the falls - about three minutes - if you go directly from the entrance. Fortunately, there are a few other tracks that you can take as well, including a thirty minute lookout track, and the three hour Massey Track. Given we were with a four and six year old, we explored both the lookout track and the direct path to the falls.
There were signs warning against swimming in the pool surrounding the falls, but I’ve read on other websites that it is a popular swimming destination. I can confirm that no one was swimming when we were there, but then again, it was cold-ish and in the middle of the winter. The waterfall itself is powerful. It is a good 30 meters and is part of the Wairoa River. Standing next to it and listening to the water crash over the side of the rock wall makes you realize how powerful nature can be when she feels like it.
I would definitely recommend making the drive to Hunua. If you decide to go on a Sunday, you can pair this activity with the Clevedon Farmer’s Market just a 15 minute drive away. It’s a great combination!