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Kiwi towns

What’s so great about Marokopa, what to see and best things to do

  • 3 minutes

Waikato, North Island

A historical gem, a quiet backwater and local summer favourite holiday spot

Marokopa there are plenty of things to do. A place that is known for its beach access. And the wild west coast beach is not really swimmable. A remote beach with the only access through a stock tunnel is the main reason for the trek to Marokopa. Waikawau Beach is the majesty of nature in unravelled glory.

Had enough beaches? There’s one of New Zealand waterfall jewells with a very satisfying constant cascade of water to visit nearby. Marokopa Waterfalls has a short easy boardwalk access, it is photogenic and glorious.

Mangapohue boardwalk thru native bush, New Zealand
Mangapohue boardwalk thru native bush

What to do in Marokopa, highlights

  • Marokopa Waterfalls, stunning lesser-known NZ falls. Note viewing platform could be closed due to an upgrade check out Marokopa Waterfalls before departing to avoid disappointment.
  • Waikawau Tunnel and Beach is a fascinating tunnel for ‘spooky’ fans although will not scare kids too much as you can see the light at the end of the tunnel
  • Kiretehere beach for fossil hunting
  • Mangapohue Natural Bridge, limestone arch over a picturesque stream

Waikawau Tunnel and beach

Sandstone cliffs are tinted with orange, yellow and creams. The beach and headlands remind visitors that there are places where people are few and far between. Waikawau beach is raw, elemental and wild. You feel like an adventurer especially after the journey to the location. The tunnel opens to iron black sands, sandstone eroded cliffs, piles of driftwood and the constant surge of the sea relentlessness pounding the sand.

The tunnel was constructed in 1911 by three employees of the Works Department to allow the pastoral lease, Nukuhakari Station access to the beach to move stock along the beach as land access was difficult (hills, ravines). The floor can be wet and muddy due to condensation on the tunnel roof and walls. At the roadside tunnel entrance are dunes and streams to explore while waiting for low tide.

Waikawau Bay Beach sunrise, Coromandel, North Island, New Zealand
Waikawau Bay Beach
Natural bridge and caves on Mangapohue, Waikato, New Zealand
Natural bridge and caves on Mangapohue, Waikato

Waikawau Tunnel Beach

  • Difficulty: Easy
  • MUST bring: Tide chart

Mangapohue Natural Bridge

Mangapohue Natural Bridge has spectacular sights. The 17 metre-high limestone arch which spans Mangapohue Stream is the remnants of an ancient cave system.

Marokopa Falls

The 30 metre high falls are phenomenal and while readily accessible are not usually on the tourist circuit. The impressive waterfalls are located in Tawarau Forest. The short loop track leads to a platform overlooking the base of the falls.

Due to ongoing maintenance of the trail, check Department of Conservation lookout is open.

Piripiri Caves

The caves are open to the public with free access. There are layers of enormous oyster fossils with a plaque helpfully describing where to look at the back of the cave. The cave is a self-guided walk.

Marokopa Falls on North Island New Zealand
Marokopa Falls

Kiretehere Beach

Forget sunbathing or swimming. Let’s go fossil hunting. For photographers the sweep of the beach, the fossickers and the sunsets make for a magical moment where the elements come together.

Marokopa River

Marokopa River opens out into the Tasman Sea. The dunes and beach area are largely off limits due to archeological sites establishing evidence of Maori burial sites and shore bird nesting locations. The settlement has a campground store (open in summer season) supplying basic necessities and is the hub for the very small community. Dedicated fans of surf casting fishing use the beach or estuary when the tide is turning. The estuary is safe for swimming.

Marokopa fame

Remote, the wild west of the North Island

Marokopa for kids

The roads are narrow and winding, if the child suffers from car sickness it could be an issue

Where to take the best selfies in Marokopa

  • Arriving and finding the places
  • Waterfalls, tunnels, caves, take your pick

Best time to go to Marokopa

Year round, be prepared with layers, warm clothing and boots (+ torch)

Marokopa population

Less than 50 residents

Judgment on Marokopa

Want to find out what is beyond the iconic Waitomo Caves, just follow the road.

Every town adds to the richness of things to do and see. For more details about the region check Hamilton & Waikato Region nearby attractions and events.

Cute Sheep-run near Marokopa in New Zealand
Cute Sheep-run near Marokopa


Postage stamps printed in New Zealand, shows Marokopa Falls, circa 1976, New Zealand
Postage stamps printed in New Zealand, shows Marokopa Falls, circa 1976

Maropokpa settlement

The settlement does not have a grocery store and is largely dotted with holiday homes. There is a holiday park for overnight stays however you will need to carry your own drinking water and food supplies.

Marokopa Holiday Park

You will need to take all your supplies (inc Water) with you because there is no local shop and the water although good for a shower its not good for drinking.


The camp store is open in the peak season and has a lending library where books are circulated. What you have finished reading your book, donate to the library collection. A tiny town with a tiny circulating library. You must have a KiwiCash key before you arrive at the camp.

Name Waikawau means water of the shag.

Getting to Waikawau Tunnel and Beach from Marokopa

Waikawau beach hand cut tunnel provides public access to the coastline between Marokopa and Awakino. Waikawau Beach is signposted on the unsealed Waikawau Beach Road. The road has a number of hair pin bends (very tight corners). Be careful of wild goats grazing or even stock animals. There is parking and a compostable toilet by the tunnel entrance.

Boat conditions

Boat forecast for Waikawau


Get the latest tides in New Zealand and around the world!

New Zealand’s tide times

The beach is also accessible from Awakino (33 km, approx. 1hr).


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