Last Updated: 10th Jan 2024

Beginner - Intermediate

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Eastern Okataina Walkway to Tarawera Falls

Kawerau, Bay of Plenty

Submitted by Mike Tennent

Last Updated: 10th Jan 2024

Beginner - Intermediate

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I've done it Done

Closed More info

The Eastern Ōkataina Walkway is closed due to a large unstable slip. For more info and updates, check out the DoC website, here.

Please notify us if this has changed.

Grunt Factor: 31

Gnarl Factor: 47








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Trail Map

Type of Run

Front country - easily accessible

Point to Point (one way)

Undulating, some big hills

Native bush

Plantation/exotic forest




Run Makeup


Easy Single Track

Moderate Single Track

Technical Single Track

Untracked / Route only

Average Uphill Gradient: +7.1%

Average Downhill Gradient: -7.4%


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Estimated Times to Run







Pretty simple for the most part, once you have found the start of the trail then away you go. Early on there is a short trail to the right to the Maori Pa site and to the lakefront, this is not on the route but well worth the extra time if you have it. After that stick to the main trail. There is the occasional minor trail off to the right to the lake front but it is pretty obvious where you are going for the first 10km to Humphries Bay.

On reaching Humphries Bay, which is just over the saddle from Lake Okataina to Lake Tarawera, you have to start taking a bit more care with the trail. There are the usual orange triangles although occasionally you may need to take a second to spot the next one. Largely you run next to Lake Tarawera other than one largish climb inland and then back down to the lake. At about 17 to 18km you will reach firstly the wharf and then the footbridge over to the Outlet Campground. Unless you want to explore, you should carry on straight and follow the signs and trail to Tarawera Falls.

After about another 4 to 5km you will come to a trail split, take the right hand route to the Cascades and prepare for the slowest part of the day... not because of the trail difficulty, but the amazing whitewater through here will have you entranced... and there is so much of it... culminating in the Tarawera Falls themselves. After the Falls another 1.5km and you will pop out into the carpark where hopefully your ride home awaits.

The amazing Tarawera Falls where the Tarawera River goes underground and then erupts from the side of a cliff. On top of that there are 2 lakes, lots of birdlife, an old Pa site and some of the best trail you can get.

Quite a lot of parking available. 

37 km

36 minutes




Between Humphries Bay and the outlet there are a couple of patches where the trail is not really defined at all, just lots of tree roots and/or leaves. Take your time and look for that next orange marker.


Waterproof leggings, Long-sleeved thermal top, Seam-sealed waterproof jacket, Windproof jacket, Gloves, Beanie/thermal headwear, Personal Locator Beacon (PLB), Whistle, First aid kit, Extra food for emergencies, Survival bag, Cellphone, Map, Headtorch and spare batteries.

Mostly you have bloody big lakes next to you, although occasionally you can't get to them.

Pretty good all year round

The technical parts are largely rocks and tree roots, very easy to slip or roll an ankle.

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Trail Reviews

I wanted to explore this course before the TUM. Started at Okataina Lodge went through to Tarawera Falls carpark and then retuned, the goal was not speed, but just a hike, test some gear, get familiar with the trail and take some photos along the way.
*** Parking ***
Although there is a lot of car parking at Okataina, I decided to stay at the lodge and park my car there (min stay is two nights, which cost me $350 for a studio). I believe car access from the Outlet or Tarawera falls is not possible, but this was through a third party so I cannot confirm and please research yourself.
*** Water ***
I started late afternoon on a very hot, sunny day. I consumed about 4 L of water to get to the Outlet from Okataina. There is a water source there that requires filtering or treatment but I could not find the water source at the Outlet, other than the lake. I think I would have consumed about 10L of water across the return trip (it was a very hot day).
There are a couple of spots to pick up water from Lake Okataina when the track gets close to the beach. I found the water in most of the Tarawera Lake had a bit of Algae, but once you get to the Outlet the water seemed a bit clearer, either way, I used filtering before drinking.
*** Conditions Okatania to Humphries ***
There is still an impassable slip next to Okataina Lodge, so you have to walk through the lake to get around, it's at the start, so not a problem. The water came halfway between my knees and hips, so not deep, and the walk was very short.
The Track from Okataina to Humphries was not well maintained, with lots of fallen trees, a couple of slips, roots, fallen branches, and enclosed bushes on either side. I found poles helpful; also, I was wearing compression on the legs, which helped with the attack from the enclosed bushes. I probably would have had something on my arms as well, but it's not a must-have.
If the track was better maintained, I would give this five stars because it is a magical track that WOULD be reasonably easy to run IF maintained. However, a lot of walking, careful foot placement and clambering was required.
When I returned in the dark, navigation was still relatively easy, but there were a few spots where I had to backtrack to find the trail. I found I knew I was off-trail within 20 meters normally (Often due to a different sound or feel underfoot).
I used a head torch and a hip based light at night, which was helpful with foot placement due to the roots. I don’t usually get blisters running, but for some reason, this track was very uneven underfoot, and so blisters were an issue.
*** Conditions Humphries to Outlet ***
This trail is easier to run, especially closer to the Outlet. However, there are a few technical sections, which felt like a bit of clambering and hiking.
I found the trail was a bit more open than Okataina, but still required attention to the trail for foot placement due to roots or rocks. There is an impressive glow-worm grotto on this trail which is incredibly impressive at night. It is on the trail as you descend to Ruakopu Bay from Humpries Bay, or from the other direction, the first ascent from the Outlet just after Ruakopu bay.
*** Conditions from Outlet to Tawera Falls ***
This track is very well maintained and easy to run; there are a couple of sections that are steep closer to the falls. The scenery is amazing and was the highlight of the trail.

Mark Ashcroft

December 28, 2021

Ran the other direction as part of 2020 TUM102k. The falls were stunning, with water so crystal clear it was so tempting to stop racing and go for a swim!

Joe Benbow

January 12, 2021

Have run this in both directions, and loved both directions. So much variation underfoot along the way, take some time to relax at Humphries Bay and refuel between lakes. Keep an eye out for Wallabies if youre out late, theres plenty about

Brad Harris

March 3, 2020

Completed as part of the 2020 Tarawera 100 miler at night time. I really enjoyed it, whilst its a rooty technical run I found the sheer amount of roots enabled me to run on top of them rather than having to weave through. Can't comment on views given it was night but saw quite a few wallabies.

Gareth Davies

February 13, 2020

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Overlapping Trails

These overlap with this trail to some degree. You may wish to combine them but please note that to qualify for FKTs on these runs you should record a separate activity for each.

Okataina...Eastern & Western

Okataina...Eastern & Western

Length: 33.7km

Level: Beginner - Intermediate