Shine Falls

Where: Napier
Distance & Time: 4km, 1 hour
Take: Water, snacks, sunscreen, insect repellent, and togs
Amenities on route: Tutira dairy for anything you’ve forgotten, and I’d recommend stopping in for an ice-cream post walk.
Cost of the walk: Free, although the start of the walk is one hour north of Napier, so will need a car/petrol to get there.


On the first sunny Saturday in December, I expected the Shine Falls track to be full of families trekking their way down to the falls for a swim – this walk is along a relatively flat track, safe, and with barely any uphill. Hence, you could imagine my surprise when we made it all 2km to the falls without passing another person!

However, that changed once we got to the falls with a family having professional photos taken there (with a touch of eel spotting in between!) and another guy taking drone shots of the waterfall. I have to admit, watching his footage was pretty cool, the drone provided a totally different perspective of the environment and made us realise just how tall the waterfront was.

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Nice start to the track.

I can’t vouch for this, but with the number of magpies we saw in the paddock at the beginning of this walk, there is no way that I would venture here during breeding season (Oct/Nov) I learned my lesson there doing the Otago Rail Trail in October last year and being divebombed more than a dozen times over the weekend. Thank goodness for bike helmets!

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Mum leading the way

The first part of this walk is through farmland before you climb over a stile into the island reserve. It’s quite a noticeable difference between the two! Keep an eye out in the cliffs for the goats relaxing in the shade of the caves.

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The hollow

Once we were in the reserve it became a lot greener almost instantly. It’s an easy walk, as you’re in the base of a hollow (remember to look up to realise just how true that is) We were hopeful that there may be a track to the top of the waterfall to get a view down, but unfortunately that didn’t seem to be the case.

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First glimpse of Shine Falls

About five minutes before the Falls there is a turn off to the right over the river, that track takes you around the reserve back to Boundary Stream – it’s now been added to my list of walks I want to do in the future. I think the best way would be having two groups with one starting from each end, meeting in the middle to switch car keys, and then meeting back at the Tutira store for ice-cream at the end!

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Getting closer

Our sightings of the Falls started to become more frequent until we crossed a small footbridge to walk alongside the stream to the base of the falls – we had arrived! Yet again this is one of those awesome places where a huge array of fences/signs/barriers has yet to take hold. There is however, one picnic table but I think you’d have to get here fairly early to bags it!

Amy’s Advice – take your togs so you can jump in for a swim, I wasn’t quite brave enough to go in with what I had on, but on a super hot day it would be glorious!

I’d forgotten to bring my togs – rookie mistake – I definitely won’t be doing that next time I’m here!

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Thanks Mum, for capturing this moment on camera

There was no one swimming while we were there, but a couple of little kids looked as though they’d just emerged from the water (and would no doubt be heading back in once they’d finished their lunch!)

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Ok, that’s better

There’s something about waterfalls that is awe-inspiring. I could actually sit and watch them for hours (what an oddball), but I find them absolutely fascinating!

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Hawke’s Bay’s highest waterfall, at 58m

The family who were doing the photo shoot pointed out a large eel just slightly downstream from the falls, which is when I suddenly became very glad I’d forgotten my togs. I totally get that this is their home and we’re encroaching, but I do not need a creature the size of my leg hanging out alongside me while I’m trying to cool down!

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Looking for eels in the stream – we found some!

The walk out felt a lot shorter than the walk in (isn’t that always the way?) Also, can I make a request of all track-makers from now on to make them all loop tracks? It’s so much more interesting that way!

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That cave was a favourite shady hangout for a herd of wild goats. Which I mistook for people. Time to get my glasses prescription checked!

We’d timed this walk perfectly, on the way back we passed at least two dozen people. Visit before lunchtime if you want to avoid the crowds! I have to admit I cracked up at the kids wearing jandals, guys, this isn’t the beach!

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Goody goody gumdrops & orange chocolate chip icecream on the way home – best way to finish a hike!

Make sure you stop off at Tutira Store on the way back to Napier to treat yourself to an icecream (you can never go wrong with goody gum drops). We took our treats down to Lake Tutira to eat, as Mum and David reminisced about coming to the lake for adventures when they were young. Unfortunately the lake has been having issues lately, but it looks as though things may be improving now, thank goodness. Here’s hoping the next time I’m back this way to do some of the other walks on offer, that I can nip into the lake to cool off (and this time I’ll remember my togs!)

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