Falling Waters Fourteen: Karekare and The Chasm, New Zealand

January, 2014

I move to the Southern Hemisphere now. Like Iceland, New Zealand is a country with many beautiful waterfalls, not 10,000, but 249 named falls. This is according to Land Information for New Zealand, the department charged with managing land. We saw only a few, as our stay was short, only a week.

Karekare Falls is located on New Zealand’s north island, about 25 miles from Auckland, or about an hour’s drive. You can see it from the road as you approach. This fall was featured in the 1993 movie, “The Piano.”


You can park your car on the road, or in the nearby parking lot, and take a short walk to the falls. You will walk past some lovely cascades on the way.

When you reach the end of the path, you will be delighted by the view of this 100 foot fall. It’s hard to believe this fall is so close to the road, since the area feels so secluded. Karekare is a horsetail fall, one where the water maintains contact with the bedrock most of the time, often creating a mist – the tail. This differed from a plunge waterfall like Bridalveil in Yellowstone, which drops straight from the top.

As long as you’re in the neighborhood, stop at nearby Piha Beach, a black iron-sand beach much loved by surfers.

When we were there, it was possible to hike to the top of Karekare, but that option has been closed since early in 2018 to protect against kauri dieback disease. The kauri tree was heavily logged in the 1800’s, and only about 10% of the forest remained by 1950. The wood from the kauri tree repels insects, and it lasts a very long time, so it was very popular for construction and shipbuilding. Kauri dieback has been spreading through kauri forests on the mainland, further endangering the few remaining trees.

The Chasm is well worth a stop on the way to Milford Sound on New Zealand’s southern island. The walk from the parking lot is only about .25 mile, and fairly flat with safety railings. The Chasm is on the Cleddau River, and is created when the waters force their way through a narrow, rocky valley. You can hear the roar of the falls from the road. As you walk the path, notice how the thundering water has sculpted the rocks.

The Chasm is a tumbling waterfall, more like a cascade, I think, but it is stunning in its own way, for the pure power of the water flow, and the beautiful path it has created.


About kcbernick

I love to travel.
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