What’s north of Hamilton? Horotiu in the Waikato

Haruru Falls is a small settlement in Northland, on the North Island of New Zealand.

Today it’s probably best known for its proximity to more famous neighbours like Pahia, the gateway to the Bay of Islands and starting point for many a Bay of Islands tour, including boat tours, snorkeling, dolphin watching and diving excursions, as well as the Waitangi Treaty Grounds.

But Haruru is pretty interesting in its own right. From the township’s history as a river port, to the much photographed waterfall, to a very honest rope swing, Haruru Falls is a fascinating place.

Here are some of your most commonly-asked questions about Haruru Falls answered.

What is the significance of Haruru Falls on the Waitangi River?

A reference to the townships namesake waterfall, in the name Haruru Falls, “haruru” means “big noise” in te reo Maori, which is what the falls make, especially after a heavy rain.

The beautiful horseshoe-shaped waterfall isn’t big, but it’s wide, and crosses the Waitangi River where it flows at its strongest. Not far past the falls, the scenic Waitangi River pours into a lagoon with an important Kiwi cultural connection – it’s the site of Te Waitangi marae and the famous Waitangi Treaty Grounds. (Story goes, there’s a taniwha in the lagoon, too.)

Can you walk from Haruru Falls to the Waitangi Treaty Grounds?

Speaking of a Kiwi cultural connection, this is a literal one. Haruru Falls is joined to Waitangi via a six-kilometre walking trail, which takes about 1.5 hours to walk.

The sheltered Haruru Falls track follows the banks of the river, and includes a boardwalk section through a mangrove forest. And a visit to the Treaty Grounds itself, and the recently opened museum, are a must-do.

Can you go kayaking at Haruru Falls?

You can, and in fact one option is to walk one way and kayak back to and from Haruru Falls. You can hire kayaks or go one a kayaking tour from the Waitangi Bridge, where the lagoon meets the open water of the Bay of Islands.

Canoeing Haruru Falls, as in off the falls, is not recommended, but you can paddle right up under them, if you’re willing to get wet.

How far is it from Haruru Falls to Paihia?

Heading to Haruru Falls? Plan to see Paihia as well, it’s just a 10-minute drive away.

Paihia is the jumping off point for the Bay of Islands tour scene, and was also the site of the country’s first church, built by colonial settlers in 1823, as well as the first printing press, which followed in 1835.

How big is Paihia then?

Paihia has a population of about 1500, while Haruru is slightly smaller, with about 1000 residents.

What is the history of Haruru Falls?

Haruru Falls and the lagoon around it was one of the country’s first river ports, and the waterway had been used by and settled by Maori long before European contact. Haruru Falls’ Old Wharf Road was also New Zealand’s first surveyed road ever built.

Is there a viewing platform at Haruru Falls?

Park at the Haruru Falls car park and walk about 50 metres to reach a viewing platform that is so close to the top of the falls, you can feel the spray, especially when they are pumping after a heavy rain.

Feeling brave? There’s also a rope swing at the Haruru Falls viewpoint. Splash-tastic!