McLaren Falls Park is a fantastic place to visit and better yet it’s fit for all ages and abilities to enjoy. Whether you’d like to hike to a beautiful waterfall, play Disk Golf, camp out, see glow worms, have a BBQ or throw yourself off a 5 story bridge into the water below – McLaren Falls has something for everyone.
The park is a 20-minute drive South-East of Tauranga City, New Zealand and is home to a bunch of awesome and mostly free activities.
The parkland itself is 190 hectares and set alongside Lake McLaren. It is popular for camping, fishing, kayaking, weddings and hosts its share of summertime concerts – All information can be found at the I-site in the carpark.
It also has (which it fails to boast about) an excellent display of glowworm’s that have nestled in beside a hidden but awe-inspiring waterfall. If you fancy a dip, take your swimming gear along with thick skin, it’s pretty nippy to say the least.
We camped over night to enjoy all the park had to offer. A camping spot will cost you $10 NZD per person, per night. For this you’ll get BBQs, hot showers, toilets and a glowworm experience. We utilised the free BBQ’s for dinner and breakfast, they worked a treat cooking our sausages just right.
McLaren Falls is a 5-minute walk from the park – You will hear it before you see it! Once there you’ll be greeted by hundreds of large and small boulders, which harbour many small pools of water, some of which are large enough to take a swim in.
There are a few waterfalls that run across the boulders all of which you would be able to stand under and enjoy a nice cool shower, but the main attraction for us was jumping into water. It’s great fun!
There are a few spots suitable for all ages. We chose the lower and the middle boulders to jump off. When you jump, aim for the centre, which is so deep that you will never come close to touching your toes on the riverbed.
If you are keen for a heart racing experience you can throw yourself off the 5 story high bridge. It’s a good 4-second free-fall, which, doesn’t sound like a lot but we could imagine it feels like 20 when you are doing it. We jumped of a rock that’s half that height and can tell you that it feels like your flying for an age until you plummet deep into the water.
Gents, a word of advice, if you are looking to impress the onlookers, before you hit the water close your legs! Josh failed to do this and found himself floating on his back, slowly being swept downstream whilst recovering from a blow to his nether regions.
All in all we spent a good couple of hours jumping, bombing, diving and floating in the water. McLaren Falls is certainly home to a great day or two of good times and entertainment.