Tawhai Falls, Whakapapa

A short (15min) walk from Bruce Road to Tawhai Falls, a 13-metre high waterfall that was the filming location of Gollum’s pool in Lord of the Rings.

I was wondering why this short track was so popular, as we stopped to do a last walk in Tongariro National Park on the way back to Auckland. I discover later that the Tawhai Falls was the filming location of Gollum’s pool, where Faramir and his archers watch Gollum fish.

The well sign-posted track heads gently downhill from the carpark, with occasional views of Mount Ngauruhoe in the background. Near the end of the track, there’s a timber-fenced lookout at the top of the falls.


The track then continues down to the base of the falls, where there’s a nice view of the Tawhai Falls plunging into a circular pool.


Downstream of the falls, there’s a small “beach”: we saw a few people at the carpark who’d gone for a swim drying off. It looks like an idyllic swimming spot – but the water is pretty cold.

It’s the same way back up to the carpark – the return trip with time to take a few photos takes less than half an hour. It’s worth a quick stop on the way up to or back from Whakapapa village.

Location Carpark is 4km below Tongariro National Park Visitor Centre
Distance 1km return. 20min.
Grade Easy. Total ascent is 20m.
Season/s All year
Map/s Interactive topographical map [AllTrails]
GPS Route PlotaRoute map with option to download GPX / KML file


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