Council owns Omanawa Falls and the power station. These are not open or accessible to the public for safety reasons.
Omanawa falls development
Omanawa Falls Power Station was the first underground power station in the Southern Hemisphere. The reserve comprises a historical power station and native bush planting.
History of the power station
Approval was obtained from the Public Works Department to take water from the Omanawa River to generate electricity and circulate the same throughout the Tauranga Borough and part of the County.
Mr Lloyd Mandeno, the Borough Electrical Engineer had full control of the scheme. First of all, a tunnel had to be made to get access down. The tunnel had to be pick hewn. Once this tunnel was completed, the powerhouse was blasted out of the solid rock and a huge cavern was formed to provide room for the machinery.
Omanawa Station was completed on the 28th of August in 1915 and on 2nd October, that year the Borough was lit up for the first time with electrical street lights replacing the existing gas lamps. The output from Omanawa was carried to the Borough on a three phase 11kV line.
The machines were found to be too small to supply the Tauranga requirements. A larger 1200hp plant was installed with a new 650kw generator after the powerhouse was enlarged
The cotton insulation on the windings finally gave up, damaging the coils. These were replaced and it continued for another few years.
After almost 83 years of service the power station was finally shut down by TrustPower Ltd.
A hydroelectricity enthusiast undertook a lease of the power station to restore and recommission it.