The Omanawa Falls reserve is owned by Tauranga City Council and is closed to the public for safety reasons. We are working with Ngāti Hangarau and Tourism Bay of Plenty to understand how we can open the falls to our community.
Omanawa Falls Development Project update
An application for resource consent for the Omanawa Falls Development Project has been lodged with Western Bay of Plenty District Council and the Bay of Plenty Regional Council. This consent has been jointly notified with a hearing scheduled for April. For more up to date information on this project read the project newsletters below.
We are committed to opening the Omanawa Falls but only when it is safe to do so, and with full consideration given to the historical, cultural and environmental significance of this site.
Until this time, please do not visit this location as there is no public access. As an alternative, Kaiate Falls are a short drive away.
Visitor information for Bay of Plenty waterfalls (3.9mb pdf)
No public access
Despite being closed, some people have continued to visit the falls. Over the years a number of people have seriously injured themselves while trying to reach the waterfall or have had to be rescued after becoming trapped in the basin. Sadly, there has also been two fatalities.
To ensure people are aware of the dangers, the closure is clearly signposted. Ngāti Hangarau kaitiaki are also based on site to advise people of the dangers involved and to educate them around the cultural significance of the falls.
The Omanawa Falls area is in the rohe of Ngāti Hangarau and is of special cultural significance.
For this reason, Tauranga City Council is partnering directly with Ngāti Hangarau on the design and development of this site.
To reopen the Omanawa Falls, as has been directed by Council, we will need to create safe access.
A few factors make this location challenging to work within.
This area is of natural, historical and cultural interest, and has significant ecological status. The falls themselves have steep cliffs, which are unstable in parts.
This means creating safe access will be challenging.
Since establishing a project group with Ngāti Hangarau and Tourism Bay of Plenty in 2019, a design for the area has been developed.
Features of the co-design include a viewing platform, upgraded track, as well as supporting infrastructure such as carparking and public toilets. (See image below. Select the image to enlarge it.)
An increased understanding of the cultural significance of this area is seen as another key benefit of the project.
Tauranga City Council has invested $978,945 on the project to date. This includes technical reports and the purchase of 1031 Omanawa Road to help facilitate development.
Tauranga City Council has received $1m from the Tourism Infrastructure Fund.
The project partners are seeking additional third-party funds to deliver this project.
Council approved budget allocation for the Omanawa Falls project of $3.5 million to go into the 2021-2031 Long Term Plan to provide more certainty on funding. This is to enable the project to proceed to current project timelines.