Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

New Zealand: Okere Falls

with 25 comments

Okere Falls 7551

On February 25th, shortly after heading north from the geothermal region around Rotorua, I stopped briefly at Okere Falls. While I was there a young German asked me—oh, the presumed wisdom of white hair—if it was safe to jump into the water at the base of the falls. I told him I didn’t know but he apparently decided it was safe because not long afterwards I saw him, dripping wet, coming back up the path from below the falls. The only falls-related urge that the older American yielded to was the non-wetting one of taking pictures, as you see here.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 9, 2015 at 5:14 AM

25 Responses

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  1. I would say you were wise beyond your white-haired years to resist the temptation to dive in. Riding over the falls in a barrel…now that would be something else.
    Lots of nice action in the water.

    Steve Gingold

    July 9, 2015 at 5:19 AM

    • The only barreling I did was occasionally down the highway, once I got used to driving on the wrong side of the road. I lived to tell of that, but I think a tumble down the falls would have left me not only speechless but also lifeless.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 9, 2015 at 7:12 AM

    • By the way, I just checked and found I used a shutter speed of 1/400 sec. to preserve details in the churning of the water.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 9, 2015 at 7:20 AM

  2. Why would one want to jump in? Perhaps this young tourist was waterfalling his way round New Zealand; scary thought. The rock in the middle of the falls looks like a large lizard, trying to make its way upstream.


    July 9, 2015 at 6:03 AM

  3. Extreme fool I’d say. Who knows what lies beneath that churning water.


    July 9, 2015 at 6:30 AM

    • I guess that’s why he was trying to get the reassurance that there was nothing dangerous below the water at the base of the falls. Based on how soon I saw him coming back up the trail already wet, I don’t think he’d had time to look for someone else to ask, so he must have decided to take risk the risk. It didn’t occur to me to ask him.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 9, 2015 at 7:29 AM

  4. My first thought when I glimpsed this photo was, “wow, that looks like a lot of water going over that falls…I wouldn’t want to fall in!” and then I read about the young wet man and laughed.
    This is a wonderful photo.


    July 9, 2015 at 6:42 AM

    • Like the Northwest of the United States, New Zealand typically gets plenty of rain, so that unlike in Texas during the summer, I never saw a dry or even just-barely-flowing river there. So much the better for my picture-taking.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 9, 2015 at 7:36 AM

  5. The interlacing of the muted greens and browns is beautiful. In some photos of rivers or falls, the water and land seem completely separate. Not so, here.

    The color of the water is intriguing. The first time I saw such clear, green water in the Hill Country, it seemed magical. Now that I know limestone is a good part of the reason for those green and aqua tints, it’s no less magical. I can’t help but think the rocks here are contributing to the water’s beautiful color.


    July 9, 2015 at 7:29 AM

    • I hadn’t noticed how similar in color the water on the far side of the falls is to the leaves of the trees on the bank beyond it. I’d also not thought about limestone having anything to do with the color of the flowing and falling water. And speaking of magical: If only New Zealand were as close as the Texas Hill Country that I live a mile inside the eastern edge of….

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 9, 2015 at 8:00 AM

  6. Good thing the young man was wise enough to ask an expert on waterfall sports. If you told him that many people jump in above the falls and ride to the bottom, would he have taken your advice?

    What would you estimate is the length of that large rock in the river?

    Jim in IA

    July 9, 2015 at 7:33 AM

    • That’s a good hypothetical question you raise. Fortunately for the young German, neither you nor I would have been mischievous enough to suggest it was safe to jump in at the top and ride the river to the bottom. I searched online and found a site that puts the height of the falls in the 4–6m range.

      As for being a sports expert of any kind, I’ll borrow Bob Dylan’s words and say “No, no, no, it ain’t me, babe.”

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 9, 2015 at 8:11 AM

  7. That looks beautiful. I’d love to visit New Zealand some time.

    Ray Dawson

    July 9, 2015 at 5:58 PM

  8. ha! i cannot imagine jumping into those falls without first checking the depth of the water! oh, to be young and invincible!

  9. Jumping into the falls is definitely not recommended. Great photo. I must search the depths of my archives to find some photos of these falls. I have been there. Just can’t remember taking photos though.

    Raewyn's Photos

    July 10, 2015 at 3:50 PM

    • The guy knew not to jump into the falls per se, but into the river below the falls, although that could still have been dangerous from the force of the water and any underlying rocks or debris.

      If you don’t find any old photos of Okere Falls, this can be an incentive to visit the place again. It must look pretty different now in the cold of winter compared to how I saw it in February.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 10, 2015 at 4:03 PM

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