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Waitomo Caves, beyond the tourist circuit, what to see and best things to do

  • 4 minutes

Waikato, North Island

What to do nearby Waitomo Caves

Awesome, you’ve ticked off the Waitomo Caves. The thrill of black water rafting or a boat trip on the underwater river systems was the day’s highlight. Yet there’s more to do nearby the Waitomo Caves. Discover the raw beauty of the North Island west coast and beyond.

Where does the road go beyond Waitomo Caves?

Beyond Waitomo Caves Te Anga Road is less travelled and a genuine backwater destination.

Route map

Starting in Kawhai is a loop road trip following the coast terminating in Te Kuiti. The entire route would take several days including all stops. There are several camping grounds. Motels are largely located in Otorohanga or Te Kuiti. Some of the attractions are dead ends making for a journey with added charm or perhaps the thought, why on earth are we going there. You will not know the answer until you’ve checked the place out.

Need a vehicle to get around the Waikato while on your trip to Waitomo Caves?

Mangapohue natural bridge

Highlight for families & kids

  • Scenic magic

Mangapohue Natural Bridge is one of the most spectacular sights in the Reserve. The 17 metre-high limestone arch which spans Mangapohue Stream is the remennats of an ancient cave system. The short walk is reminiscent of where goblins and fairies might live. It is a great walk for kids.

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Mangapohue boardwalk thru native bush, New Zealand
Mangapohue boardwalk thru native bush, New Zealand
Marokopa Falls on North Island New Zealand
Marokopa Falls on North Island New Zealand

Marokopa falls

Highlight for families & waterfall fans

  • Impressive water flow

The 30 metre high falls are phenomenal and while readily accessible the Marokopa Falls are not 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.  There are benchs along the walk to rest and take in the nīkau and tawa forest. The waterfalls are a classic block cascading waterfalls over a series of rock ledges.

The height of the falls is approximately 35m. The constant spray and mist from the volume of water creates a satisfying damp environment with moss and flourishing vegetation thriving in the surrounding area. The platform can be slippery and care is needed.

Marokopa falls at sunset, Central North Island near Waitomo Caves, NZ
Marokopa falls at sunset, Central North Island near Waitomo Caves, NZ
Piripiri cave at New Zealand
Piripiri cave at New Zealand

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. It is a relatively small cave and definitely does not have the glamour of the Waitomo Cave system.

You will need:

  • Torch as there is no natural light (it’s a cave after all)
  • Boots as the cave surface boardwalks are slippery
  • There are steps, hold onto the handrails.

Kids will feel like a caving explorer. There is a Department of Conservation boardwalk and signage.

Location: Piripiri Cave Walk: Waitomo area, Waikato region

Waikawau beach & tunnel

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 relentlessnessly pounding the sand.

The cliffs are wind and weather beaten with crumbling rocks littering the beach. Care is needed and do not get too close to the cliff faces.  The beach is only accessible at low tide. High tides bring the surf close to the eroding cliff faces.

Waikawau Bay Beach sunrise, Coromandel, North Island, New Zealand
Waikawau Bay Beach sunrise, North Island, New Zealand
Waikawau tunnel @AR Live Coverage

Waikawau tunnel beach

Extraordinary, you can access a beach because a pastoral lease holder (19th century) wanted to drive cattle along the beach as quicker access to land beyond.

The tunnel is the width of the widest horned beast and tall enough for the tallest horseman.

The floor can be wet and muddy due to condensation on the tunnel roof and walls.

  • Difficulty: Easy MUST bring: Tide chart

Getting to Waikawau Tunnel and Beach from Marokopa

34km, 1 hour winding, narrow gravel road

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Waitomo Glowworm Caves, Waikato, New Zealand
Waitomo Glowworm Caves, Waikato, New Zealand

Remember to check out Waikato Regional Guide for more ideas what to do and see, lace up the hiking boots and enjoy the Waikato.

FAQ about the Waitomo Caves from how much does it cost to enter or can you go by yourself around the caves are answered in Waitomo Caves highlights what to see and do.

Find out more about the Waitomo King Country What’s so great about:


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