Waihi Falls is one of New Zealand’s out of the way rural locations that is probably far enough off the beaten track that many people give it a wide berth (or simply don’t know it exists at all), and yet not far enough that there is absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t make the side trip to see them!
Waihi Falls are located roughly a one hour drive from Dannevirke (which itself is approximately two hours from Wellington). To get there, the roads are a relatively easy drive, sealed most of the way with just the occasional gravel road. You will be driving through rural New Zealand surrounded by farmland and there are plenty of opportunities for a photograph on the way to your end destination.
As with any place there are plenty of options available to stay depending on what level of comfort you are looking for and what budget you have available. I stayed at the Dannevirke Holiday Park “roughing” it on the gloriously flat field in a tent. Facilities are more than adequate and very clean. These include kitchen with fridge, microwave, ovens and stove tops. Limited cutlery is available on site. Showers and toilets are plentiful, there is an outdoor barbeque and small play area for the kids. A quick walk around the near vicinity will take you past a deer farm and through some nice gardens and ponds. Noise is minimal overnight as it is some distance from the main road.
If you are after something a bit more comfortable the Viking Lodge Motel has received some good review on trip advisor.
I took my own facilities and used the camp site barbeque which was all I needed. Local fast food eateries such as McDonalds, Subway, KFC are near-by. Again, if you look at the places to eat in Dannevirke on Trip Advisor, there are some pretty good reviews and will be options for all tastes.
The Falls themselves
The carpark at the top of the falls is only 250 metres away. The path down is well cut and gravelled. You can get some good angles of the falls from this track looking down at them as you will see in the low resolution image below. You will find this a very peaceful location, as previously said it is a bit off the beaten track and so not visited by the masses. It is definately one of New Zealand’s must see waterfalls though!
The falls are about 25 metres high and are a fan waterfall. I went at a time when there had not been much rainfall and as you can see this made for an interesting shot with a number of water streams coming over the cliff. After a period of heavy rain the falls will obviously be in far greater flow. The pool you can see at the bottom was swimmable at the time we were there, but I wouldn’t advise it after heavy rain.
I found my favourite shot was looking directly at the falls, around to the right (as you’re facing the falls). Be careful moving around here though (I would only advise it if water levels are down), the rocks are covered in slime and very slippery!
I used my Canon 6D and 17-40mm f/4L lens to capture this image. An ND filter was used to lengthen the exposure time. My camera settings for the featured image in this post were:
- 4 second exposure
- ISO 100