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Kiwi towns

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

Cute Sheep-run near Marokopa in New Zealand


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.


  • Marokopa Waterfalls, stunning lesser known NZ falls
  • Waikawau Tunnel and Beach
  • Kiretehere beach for fossil hunting
  • Mangapohue Natural Bridge, limestone arch over a picturesque stream
Marokopa Falls on North Island

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 Tunnel Beach

Difficulty: Easy MUST bring: Tide chart

Waikawau Tunnel and beach @AR Live Coverage

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.

Pathway through New Zealand native bush, Mangapohue Natural Bridge, Waitomo District, Waikato, New Zealand Pathway through New Zealand native bush, Mangapohue Natural Bridge

Marokopa Falls

The 30 metre high falls are phenomenal and while readily accessible 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.

Marokopa Falls @bhoomil124

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.

Piripiri Caves @treesandbeesfortheplanet

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 River @inkyfarmer85


  • Remote, the wild west of the North Island


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


  • Arriving and finding the places
  • Waterfalls, tunnels, caves, take your pick
Marokopa Falls @marinenuphar


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


  • Less than 50 residents


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


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

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

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



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

Unique journeys, personal adventures.

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