On the same day we visited Tawhai Falls we saw the Taranaki Falls. This waterfall was much higher and you could even hike behind it, so you could view the world from the other side of a waterfall!
The Taranaki Falls is located on a 2 hour hike in Tongariro National Park. It is off Highway 48 near the Tongariro Park Visitor Center.
We started the day a little late, so we didn’t make it to the Taranaki Falls Walk until about 2:30pm. The sky was dark with rain clouds, but the rain had been on and off all day and since it was light we decided to try the hike anyways. We didn’t see anyone else starting the hike, but several tour groups were ending the walk. It was actually quite surprising to see throngs of people in shorts and flip-flops. With the weather and the altitude I would imagine most people would wear clothes more suitable to hiking in cold, rainy weather. I guess these tourists had gone to the lake another hour down the trail to swim.
The hike is really nice. The pathways are well maintained and even with the weather they weren’t slippery. There are lots of stairs to help you climb the steepest parts of the hike and a few places to rest if you get tired. The first half of the hike was uphill and had wide open views of the mountains and streams. A steep approach to the waterfall showed the end of the lava flow from the Tongariro and Ruapehu volcanoes and there were huge black volcanic rocks marking the spot.
Just past the Tongariro volcanic rocks is an amazing lookout where you can just see Taranaki Falls spraying off the side of the mountain. Snap a few pictures, enjoy the view and take a rest, because you have a steep descent to the base of the waterfall. At the bottom of the falls you can actually hike into the falls! If I had a swimsuit I would have stood under water and enjoyed a shower from Taranaki Falls! I did manage to hold my hand under the running water.
Just down from the Taranaki Falls is another gorgeous waterfall. I’m not sure if this one has a name; you view it from a bridge. It is a smaller falls and you get an amazing close birds-eye view of it tumbling down the cliff to form a calmer stream.
The rest of the walk is much more tropical than the first half. You follow the river down the mountain and the trees form a canopy over the path. It can get a little chilly, but if you went on a sunny day this would be a nice reprieve from the intense heat of the first part of the trail. Remember though, that this area can change weather quickly, so pack something warm and rain gear. The trail ends just a ways down from the beginning, so just walk back up the hill to get to your car.
This is definitely something worth seeing, so add it to your itinerary.