Go white-water rafting, hike along the river, go fishing for trout or take it easy with a lakeside picnic in this water-rich neighbor town of famous Rotorua.
Okere Falls hugs the shores of Lake Rotoiti and the town was named after its nearest waterfalls. The lake’s waters spill out into the Okere Inlet, flow into the Kaituna River and plunge down several waterfalls. Kaituna is a Māori name referring to the abundance of food in the river, but that’s not the only reason why people flock here.
Take a deep breath and prepare yourself for an adrenaline rush. White-water rafting over the Okere Falls and the nearby Tutea Falls is an amazing experience and is also exhilarating to watch from the shore. Expect to plunge 23 feet (7 meters) down into a mass of foaming water while you hold on for life. Tutea Falls is among the highest commercially rafted falls in the world, but experienced local guides help make it safe.
Witness the spectacle without getting wet from the Okere Falls Track, a scenic rainforest pathway that takes you along the river, past four waterfalls, into a hidden cave and finally down to a fishing basin.
At the first viewing area, peer down at the Okere Falls and the remains of the old hydroelectric power station, which ran here from 1901 to 1939.
From the Tutea Falls viewing platform, walk down the stone Hinemoa’s Steps which were carved out in 1907. Ponder the fact that, in early wars, Māori women and children would climb down into this cave with ropes, a precarious journey. At the bottom, peer into Tutea’s Cave, named after a local Māori chief. Turn your back to see the rafters plunge down the thundering waterfall.
Continue to the end of the Okere Falls Track to reach the Trout Pool. If you already bought a fishing licence, drop a line in and catch your own dinner. Alternatively, just stand quietly near the water for a chance to see the fish swim in the shallows.
Okere Falls is 20 minutes to the northeast of the thermal wonderland of Rotorua, which has all the visitor facilities you may need. Okere Falls itself has lakeside camping grounds, a great place to be at sunset.