On our way back from a short family holiday to the Far North, we stopped off in Northland’s largest town KeriKeri for some lunch.
Feeling like a bit of fresh air and a walk, we decided to check out the Rainbow Falls Walk, also known by their Maori name, Waianaiwaniwa, meaning “Waters of the Rainbows”.
From the Kerikeri township, head north-east to the Heritage Bypass, then turn left into Waipapa Road. Rainbow Falls Road is on the left off Waipapa Road. Access to the Rainbow Falls Walk is from the parking area at the end of Rainbow Falls Road
The Rainbow Falls Walk is a short walk with great wheelchair access to all three viewing points of the waterfall. The track is managed and maintained by the Department Of Conservation (DoC).
You will find plenty of areas to park but sadly nothing marked specifically for mobility parking. The carpark is flat and well maintained. Toilets are at the beginning of the track but are not wheelchair accessible.
Beginning of Track
From the beginning of the track you will find a mixture of paved and wooden paths leading you to each viewing point. The first Viewpoint will take you two minutes to walk and wheel to, the second Viewpoint four-minutes, and the third a mere five minutes.
First Viewing Point
You will arrive onto a wide viewing platform with benches either side. Here you get a stunning view of The Falls.
This would be an ideal place to sit down and have a picnic lunch while you enjoy the energy of The Falls.
The track then continues onto the second viewing point and continues to be paved, flat and easy to wheel and walk along.
Second Viewing Point
The wooden platform has plenty of room to circulate with chicken wire nailed down onto it to prevent slipping.
This is the mid-way point on your way up to where the waterfall starts its journey. From this point looking down you will see where the track comes out to access the swimming hole with views of The Falls from below.
The paved and flat trail then continues onto the third and last viewing point.
Third Viewing Point
Probably the only small barrier on this very well-maintained track is this little lip. For us this didn’t pose a problem with the powerchair and nor would it in a manual. I thought I’d include a photo of it simply because it reflects how easy this track is using a wheelchair.
The view from the top of The Falls as the river begins its fall to the bottom has a bit of history and culture attached to it.
“Here is the head of a historic weir that supplied the first electrical power to the early Kerikeri township. Remnants of the Kerikeri hydro-electric station and weir are still visible”DoC – Department of Conservation
The Track Heading to the Bottom of the Falls
The start of this track is controlled by a DoC managed Kauri dieback disease cleaning station to protect the Kauri Trees from cross contamination. It is important to scrub the soil from your shoes/wheels and then spray them before entering. You will come across these stations on some of New Zealand’s tracks as we try and protect our native Kauri Trees.
However, this part of the walking track is not accessible with powerchair or manual wheelchair.
I took a walk down to give an idea of the track for those with more mobility. There is another access to the Rainbow Falls from the KeriKeri walking track end. On this occasion we didn’t attempt that one as it was a longer route in and wasn’t described as wheelchair accessible.
This track starts off paved but then starts to wind down steeply with hard-packed gravel terrain. It had been raining heavily in the area so it was also slippery in places.