Metal fences and big signs warning people to stay away have done little to deter young thrillseekers from visiting Omanawa Falls this summer.

Tauranga City Council rangers reported seeing about 100 people there the last time they visited this summer.

Lesley Smith of the Kaimai Christmas Tree Farm, which is opposite Omanawa Falls Road, said the area had been as busy as she had ever seen it.

"Some weekends there will be up to 30 cars parked around that corner."


Drivers had to be careful and go slow to avoid the cars and the people wandering on the road, she said.

Smith said she had lived there six years, and reckoned interest in the falls only really took off after the spot was featured on The Bachelor New Zealand television show in 2015.

The picturesque pool and waterfall are at the bottom of a slip-prone track and near-vertical descents on 100-year-old ladders.

Only me... #headwound #omanawafalls #accidentprone

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Several people have been injured - some seriously - getting down or up over the years.

Tauranga City Council parks and environment team leader Warren Aitken said there had been four helicopter rescues since 2013.

"When people go there they're putting their safety, and even their lives, at risk. It's not worth it."

There had been no reports of injuries this summer.

The council had not done any formal monitoring of visitor numbers but anecdotal reports from rangers put the figure over 100 on one day recently.

The $2.7m plan to upgrade the Omanawa Falls access.
The $2.7m plan to upgrade the Omanawa Falls access.

Aitken said Omanawa Falls had "always" been closed to the public.

A $2.7m plan to improve the access and open it up to the public had attracted a $1 million funding offer from the Government's Tourism Infrastructure Fund.

The project was conditional on the rest of the funding being approved in the council's Long-Term Plan, which has yet to go out for community consultation.

Google searches for Omanawa Falls over the past two years. Image/Google Trends
Google searches for Omanawa Falls over the past two years. Image/Google Trends

The internet's love affair with Omanawa Falls

Omanawa Falls' popularity has been propelled in recent years by social media.

More than 650 photos and videos location-tagged to Omanawa Falls or Omanawa have been posted on Instagram since December 1 last year.

Nine videos of the spot have been posted on YouTube, including a few with drone footage.

Google searches for "Omanawa Falls" are also up, reaching a new peak of 100 searches in a single day in December.