Karamatura Falls

Karamatura Falls

Karamatura Falls is a waterfall in the Karamatura Valley that is popular during the warm days as a safe fresh water swimming hole.  Walking to and from the falls can be done in a pair of slides (or jandles) at a punch although, a pair of sneakers is advised.  The pools are banked with several different features including spots to jump from, natural pools to sit in for a leg massage and plenty of smaller pools to explore further downstream.  Whether you’re an avid Manu popper, or just like a relaxed summer Sunday soaker the falls are that brings it all together.  Even if you’re not keen on the water, a photographer that loves a long exposure or a waterfall admirer there’s a lovely smooth rock to perch up on.  Immerse yourself in nature.


45 min


1.75 km


230 m





A generous look over the pool that looks over Karamatura Falls

37°00′44″S 174°32′47″E

In Detail

Continuing along the track you can reach the summit of Mount Donald McLean. It is one of the few mountains in the Waitakere Ranges that you are still able to summit due to kauri dieback and was made up the purpose of the trip with a cool-off dip in the falls on the way back.  It is also a must if you are planning on hiking right the way through to Whatipu and staying the night, competing section two of the Hillary Trail.  You’ll look forward to a cheeky dip the entire way when you’re closing in on the car back at Huia.  To check for the latest updates, check Auckland City Councils kauri dieback map.

Jono taking a gasp of breath on a cooler damp day spent swimming in Karamatura Falls on the way up to Mount Donald Mclean

Getting to Karamatura Falls

To reach the track to Karamatura Falls take State Highway 20 until you reach the Hillsborough Road turn-off. Then follow Route 15, turning on to Route 24 when you reach Titirangi Road.  At the Titirangi roundabout take the first exit onto Huia Road, following this until you reach the small township of Huia. Just before the rangers’ quarters there is a right-hand turn-off down a one-way road to reach the Karamatura Valley tracks. where you can park on your right. Alternatively, another car park is situated on the left.

Karamatura Track

Walking the Karamatura track is rather easy with many people visiting and making use of the trails from Huia regularly.  The trail begins at a carpark slightly off the main road secluded by surrounding bush.  It follows along the river as you begin followed by a steep climb for a short while then levels off as you make your way around to meet the stream once again.  Here you’ll find a smaller waterfall that makes a good splash.  Beyond only a short walk will lead you to Karamatura Falls.  Your destination will be just on the right after you cross a stream hang-right.

Waitakere Ranges Weather

Weather in the Waitakere Ranges and Auckland is often variable throughout the day. Rain and wind are expected, but also commonly found are blue skies and a wicked sunset.  If you’re walking take a showerproof raincoat along with you and some water, it never hurts to stay prepared. As far as bush walks go, however, this is a short one and you’d be hard-pressed to get lost even if the entire place was blanketed in fog.  Ensure you pack in a warm layer in case the wind rises in the rain, chilling you to the bone.  Trust me – you’ll thank me later.

Karamatura Valley Car Park

At the beginning of the carpark, Auckland City Council has pulled together some fresh new facilities to accommodate increased visitors and plenty of space for all.  Even though reaching the carpark is a bit of a narrow one-way stretch, there’s plenty of room to turn around on the rare occasion you can’t find a spot.  A small length of the Karamatura Stream runs down alongside the carpark and is only a few steps away once you’re parked, a fun activity for young children keen to explore right from the outset of this trip

Top Left: The initial bottom car park where we parked up for the hike there is a
Top Right:
Toilets located at the start of the Karamatura Valley carpark
Auckland City Council signpost for the Karamatura Loop Walk, although uninformative if you’re heading up to Mount McDonald Mclean

Karamatura Track

The Karamatura Track is where the hike to Mount Donald McLean begins.  Where you must clean your shoes, a noticeboard may be seen giving any updates from the local park ranger on the status of trails, closures, or any warnings.  The track eases you into the bush with twists and turns throughout the forest and usually a good trail of people following them.  With a gentle ascent you’ll reach a viewing point over the Karamatura Valley fitted with a wooden platform.  A great place for a pit-stop.

Top: A signpost that shows that the walk is along the Hillary Trail
Middle Left:
Jono resting up at the lookout along the way up the Karamautra Track
Middle Right:
Looking across the valley out towards a part of Waterfalls Stream
Nathan (the Author) soaking up the views and scenery amongst the nikau palms

This track has only one agenda. And that is to take you up.  Gradients of ascent eb and flow as you continue up the valley with a few features along the way as you climb.  Karamatura Falls is a worthwhile view and stepping just off the track leads to a waterfall with a large enough swimming hole. Aside from this recommended and already-formed detour, continue to stay on the formed paths as best possible to reduce the chance of spreading Kauri dieback amongst the forest.  Beyond the falls the track switches gears and begins to solidly climb towards the Mount Donald McLean Track.

Jono powering up the screeds of stairs that lead up towards the start of the Donald McLean Track

Karamatura Falls

The track off from the main Karamatura Valley.  Just after you cross a small side stream (without getting your feet wet) you’ll need to head to your left following a close-cut trail to the falls.  Getting down to the falls is the challenging part.  Due to washouts, there isn’t an easy way to reach the pools without engaging some rock-climbing skills.  After a severe storms, the falls could quite likely swell and become a dangerous place for drowning.  Best to use your common sense, although usually the falls are a lovely place to bathe in the hot summers sun or even to wash off after a hike to the summit of Mount Donald McLean.

A Merrrr-Man in his happy place

The falls are a great place for a swim, but note that they are by far not the warmest of waters.  Close to the edge of the waterfall there are a couple of natural ledges that can be climbed to and further jump off. with a safe depth beneath the falls which won’t see you touching the pool’s floor.  Hang your gear up on the rounded boulder to the side or tuck into whilst you swim. 

Clockwise from Top Left
Testing the water of the Karamatura pool before ducking right on under
A quick clamber out of the pool finding the right rocks to stand on and the handholds to hoist out of the waterhole
Taking on the challenge of a clamber across around the pool towards a good jump spot around the edge of the pool.
Taking a good leap from a small height ready to drop a hearty bomb into the depths below

Karamatura Falls Crew

Shout out to Jono for committing to a waterfall swim on a sour day as far as weather goes.  It was a great way to bust back into some hiking after a long lock down in 2021 for Auckland. Combined with a summit of Mount Donald McLean it was a tasty treat for the mind, body and soul. For more great waterfall content from the Waitakere Ranges check out Kitekite Falls that Jono and I explored the following weekend.

The one and only Big-Chungus-USO (Jono)