Visitor Safety Paramount for Iconic Tararua Tourist Spot
Surrounded by farmland, the Waihi Falls, off Horoeka Road east of Dannevirke, is an iconic tourist attraction and now the District Council is funding a vital safety upgrade. As a result, the track to the Falls is closed in February to allow the work to be carried out by a local contractor.
The 25-meter high Falls, 44 kilometres from Dannevirke, can be seen after a short bush walk to a lookout, with steep steps to the base of the Falls providing a spectacular view up the Falls. At the bottom of the Falls is a large swimming hole – very popular on hot summer days.
In 2018, the Tararua District Council began planning for the upgrade after concerns were raised about the standard of the access track. Remedial work was carried out and now, Council has approved additional funding to improve the safety of this key visitor spot for locals and visitors with Waihi Falls identified as a key development opportunity for the district in the Council’s recent Visitor and Walk-Cycle Strategy and Action Plan (published in 2019).
“Waihi Falls is a very beautiful waterfall with views from the top and bottom. The landscape and beauty of the Falls attracts many visitors and locals,” Tararua District Mayor Tracey Collis said.
“The area at the base of the Falls is perfect for a picnic and people swim there, but the challenge has been the gradient of the steps to view the Falls, the fragile rock of the area and no safety rail to support people with the climb.
“Two accidents were bought to Council’s attention, one a local, the other a visitor and we had a responsibility to provide a safer environment in this popular area.”
Council Chief Executive, Blair King, also said with the area becoming more popular with visitors, the track was being converted from what was standard 10 to 15 years ago, to one which is more consistent with what people experience on the Manawatu Gorge walk.
“This will make the Falls a lot more attractive for visitors,” he said.
Work is also being carried out on the picnic facilities at the Falls as part of the upgrade.
Mayor Collis said the Waihi Falls are an attraction our visitors want to explore. “On my visits to the Falls I have encountered many overseas and domestic visitors, as well as motor-homers. These visitors often incorporate a visit to Pongaroa and Dannevirke into their trip which often includes staying in our district overnight. It gives us an opportunity to showcase ourselves and encourages our visitors to stop and spend more time exploring our land of ranges and the wonderful landscape we live in. These improvements will greatly enhance the experience and safety for us all.”