My Uncle has explored nearly every nook and cranny in New Zealand and rates the Tarawera Waterfall track from the Tarawera Outlet campground as one of his all time favourites and I think he might be right.
Its one of those walks where the trail has as much to see as the final destination; stunning Indiana Jones style native bush, walking beside the gorgeous Tarawera River with waterfalls along the way and then watching the river disappear into rock crevices to emerge out of the side of a cliff a little further down.
There are two ways to experience the waterfall; drive through the Tarawera forest to either the main waterfall carpark and walk about 20 minutes to the waterfall or drive to the Outlet campground and walk down the track beside the river. ( The Department of Conservation website says this track is 5km one way and the sign at the start of the track says 3.5km – it took us 3 and a half hours to walk with our kids and we spent a lot of exploring and enjoying the waterfall )
You need a permit to enter the Tarawera forest – available on line or at the information centre in Kawerau.