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.
Accommodation near Tawhai Falls
There are two hotels in Whakapapa Village and a camping ground. I’ve always stayed at the Skotel Alpine Resort, which is pretty good value and very close to to the start of the trails. There are more accommodation options in the town of National Park.