Everyone has heard about the Glowworm Caves in Waitomo and yet most people wouldn't realise there is more to see in this little corner of New Zealand and all within a half-hour radius.
With three attractions to see on this road, I went to the last one first. 30kms up the road from the Waitomo Caves is Marokopa Falls. An incredible force of water, you can hear these falls a few minutes before you reach them and then you’re impressed with the show that Mother Nature puts on.
It’s an easy walk through the bush that only takes 5-10 minutes to get to the lookout and only a couple of sets of stairs.
Well worth the drive and walk.
A couple of kilometres back towards Waitomo from Marokopa Falls, the Piripiri Cave is another easy track although there are a lot of stairs in this 5-minute walk.
You come across the cave suddenly when the track seems to end and find the entrance just on your right. There are more stairs down into the darkness and it is very dark.
This photo was taken on automatic with flash, something I almost never do. It was so dark I couldn't see anything and the camera could only just see the rock below to focus on.
A great place to visit as we don't have that many caves this accessible.
The last stop on the way back to Waitomo is at Mangapohue Natural Bridge.
Once again a very easy walk and this one also has picnic tables for you to enjoy lunch or a snack.
Once you cross the bridge and turn the corner you are transported to another world which the camera does not do justice to as it is so big.
The view from the lookout looking back a the entrance. This piece of roof is all that remains of a huge cave that is now a gorge
You don't have to go back the same way as this has a loop track. It cuts through farmland so please keep to the track and you will have about three stiles to climb over.
The second half of the track takes about 10-minutes to get back to the carpark but is a great walk as it's so different from the walk in.
Just 12 minutes up the road towards Hamilton from Waitomo, the Kiwi House at Otorohanga is a great place to see New Zealand's native wildlife up close.
Keeper talks about Kiwi, Kea, Kaka, Kakariki and eels happen throughout the day. It's a small park to walk around but you can see endangered New Zealand wildlife and walk through a large aviary with birds flying freely. A great place for kids to see and learn all about our local wildlife.
The Ed Hillary Walkway on the main street of Otorohanga tells the story of New Zealand through the ages.
History of New Zealand, who invented the Pavlova, inventions and so much Kiwiana, it's a great place to learn or reminisce about what New Zealand looked like in years gone by.
A bit further afield is Bridal Veil Falls. Just under an hour and a half drive, the falls are one of the highlights of the area.
With three lookouts there is something for everyone. The first lookout is on the top of the falls looking straight down. The second is just a bit further along just before you start going down to the base of the falls.
300 steps down to the base of the falls, there is a rest stop halfway down with another view of the falls.
Once you get to the bottom of the stairs you have one of the best views of the falls. Remember you have all the stairs to get back up.
This is a great area that most tourists wouldn't get to but if you are interested in waterfalls in being in nature it's a must do place to visit.
Explore the outer coast of Pohatu Marine Reserve and marvel at its spectacular towering cliffs, rock stacks, reefs, and deep sea caves. Observe the diverse wildlife and marine species such as penguins, seals, various sea birds and possibly the world’s smallest dolphin!