3 km return
1 hour return
Information for this trail was last updated May 2024

Waihīrere Domain is a favourite picnic and play area for the Gisborne community, being just 14 km from town off Back Ormond Road. It is ancestral land of hapū of Te Aitanga a Māhaki. 

A bush walk leads from the open grassy picnic area with play equipment, through tawa/karaka bush to the Waihīrere waterfall. The gradient is easy but the track includes steps and is uneven with tree roots to walk over in some sections. The track includes three small wooden bridges. A wide variety of native trees and plants make this bush remnant one of the most diverse in the region. Māhaki Mahinga Kai, a group of several local hapū, is maintaining pest traps in the reserve, allowing bush birds to increase in numbers. From the picnic area, there are views of the kānuka-covered hill slopes and prominent bluffs in the upper Waihīrere Stream catchment. With a stream catchment almost entirely bush covered, the stream has good water quality and a healthy native fauna. 

Ways to wellness - Tairāwhiti: He Ara Taiao ki te Ora – Tairāwhiti DoC website

Waihirere Waterfall Track

History of the trail

The land was originally owned by the people of Waihīrere who belong to Ngāti Kōhuru, Ngā Pōtiki, Ngāriki, Te Whānau-a-Kai, Ngāi Taupara, Te Whānau-a-Iwi, Ngāti Wāhia and Ngāti Matepū hapū of Te Aitanga a Māhaki iwi. 

Ko te take i ingoatia te Waihīrere, ko te mea he wairere i te awa nei. E kīa ana, ko Ahitītī te puke kake ai nga tipuna o Te Waihīrere ki te hopu tītī. Ka tahuna nga ahi i waenga pō. Ka kite ake i te ahi, ka rere mai nga manu, ka porowhīwhiwhi ki te kupenga ka hopukia.
(The name Waihirere comes from the fact that a waterfall is a feature of the Waihirere Stream. It was said that Ahititi was the hill where the ancestors of Waihirere trapped muttonbird. They would light fires at night which would attract the birds and they would be snared in nets.)

Waihirere Domain Management Plan on GDC website.

Tips & Logistics

Car parking is available at the end of Waihīrere Road, off back Ormond Road. Well-maintained toilets are available in the domain, at the disused pool complex. Being such a short "there and back" walk at just 3 km, this attractive bush walk can be enjoyed by families with young children.

For people who would enjoy more of a challenging return walk from the waterfall, head straight up the hill slope, on a trap line track starting just to the right (when you are facing the waterfall) of the seat at the waterfall. The track will take you to the reserve's eastern boundary fence on the ridgeline. Turn right and continue climbing under pine trees and kanuka forest, following the fence heading south. After 500m or so, you will meet an intersection of fences on a high point. Turn right and follow a fenceline on a well-defined spur all the way back to the end of Waihīrere Road. The last part of this route is a very steep descent, which can be slippery.