Tao waterfall, HienghèneTao waterfall, Hienghène
©Tao waterfall, Hienghène|Marine Reveilhac

Tao waterfall

in Hienghène

Standing at 200 metres high, Tao Waterfall emerges as the most expansive accessible waterfall in New Caledonia. Burrowed to the north of Hienghène on the eastern coast of Grande Terre, this majestic cascade is surrounded by vibrant and untamed foliage. During sunny days, venture closer to its natural pools and relish a revitalising dip in the crystal-clear waters!

To get to Hiengene from Nouméa, it’s best to rent a car to drive north towards Koné (3h20), before taking the route Koné-Tiwaka. This picturesque stretch winds its way through the Chaîne Centrale for around 1h, with some great viewpoints in between. The cascade de Tao is about 45 min from Hienghène. The road is splendid and invites you to take the last active ferry in New Caledonia to cross the Ouaième river. Once there, park on the seaward side of the river in the small dedicated parking lot. You can admire the waterfall from the road. An entrance fee is required to take the path that leads to the foot of the waterfall. It’s only open in fine weather, as it becomes slippery and dangerous when wet.

  • Entrance is priced at 200 XPF (free for kids under 10) and will only be authorised by the tribe in good weather. If a sign blocks access, do not go any further.
  • Closed shoes and a swimsuit are required.
  • The start is at the Tao tribe.
Top 5 things to do at Tao waterfall

1. Bathe in the natural pool

Tao Waterfall: Natural wonder on the East Coast of New Caledonia
Tao Waterfall: Natural wonder on the East Coast of New Caledonia
Tao Waterfall: Natural wonder on the East Coast of New Caledonia

As you indulge in the refreshing waters of the natural pool at Tao Waterfall, swim towards the base of the grandest cascade and experience a rejuvenating aquatic massage. Sense the sheer force of nature as the water vigorously plunges into the pool, creating a symphony of natural power!

2. Swim in waterholes

The Tao River, originating in the heart of Mont Panié, gives rise to numerous breathtaking waterfalls. The synergy of cascading waters and lush vegetation at the base of these falls creates a truly spectacular sight. After a rewarding 30-minute hike to reach this natural haven, a dip in the invigorating waterholes becomes the perfect way to savour the scenic beauty.

3. The tropical trail

On sunny days, set out on a 30-minute walk through luxuriant vegetation to reach the enchanting Tao Waterfall. The trail, adorned with pebbles and roots, calls for sturdy sneakers, yet the effort pays off as you’re greeted with a splendid view upon arrival. As the path traverses customary land, be sure to obtain a right of passage at the entrance, easily identified by a small box. It’s advisable to carry some cash for this purpose.

Alexander Caledonian DreamAlexander Caledonian Dream
©Alexander Caledonian Dream

Tao, this is without doubt the most beautiful waterfall I’ve seen in my life! And I come from New Zealand, where there’s no shortage of waterfalls.

Alexander Mcalpine, Caledonian Dream season 2

4. Picnic on site

Enhance your nature retreat by bringing along a picnic! Indulge in your meal atop one of the expansive rocks, savouring the breathtaking views of waterfalls and the distant lagoon framed by the rainforest. Numerous hotels and B&Bs in the vicinity provide convenient takeaway lunch options, so don’t hesitate to inquire at your accommodation.

5. Enjoy an inspiring view of the lagoon

The large boulders encircling the pools at Tao Waterfall provide an ideal spot for relaxation, allowing you to absorb the scenery of the lagoon and the lush surroundings. Amidst the humid ambiance and the symphony of nature’s sounds, taking pleasure in this extraordinary setting offers a truly transformative escape from the routines of everyday life!