Gollum’s Pool, also known as Tawhai Falls, is a hidden gem located in Tongariro National Park, on New Zealand’s North Island. The 13-metre-high waterfall is best known as the filming location for the Forbidden Pool scene, in which Faramir and his archers are watching Gollum fish in “The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers”. Since then, the waterfall (and the pool which it flows into) has been simply referred to as “Gollum’s Pool”.
Gollum’s Pool is accessible via a short and easy walk, making it one of the easier attractions to access in Tongariro National Park. You don’t necessarily need to plan in advance for it.
If you’re in Tongariro National Park, you can make a quick stop at the Tawhai Falls Walk. It is possible to walk to Gollum’s Pool, take photos, admire it, and return in under 30 minutes.
Gollum’s Pool – Location and Direction
The entrance to the Tawhai Falls Walk track is located on State Highway 48 (SH48) in Tongariro National Park. SH48 connects Whakapapa Village to State Highway 47 (SH47), that runs between the Tongariro National Park Village and Turangi.
The entrance is on the highway itself. So, slow down as you approach it on the map.
There is limited parking for cars on either side of the highway, next to the entrance. Remember to lock your car and check your belongings before venturing out on the walk.
About the Tawhai Falls Walk track
From the side of the highway, Gollum’s Pool is a 400-metre walk on a well maintained track.
The track is a gentle downhill walk (elevation loss: 20 metres), with a few steps, making it almost like a leisurely stroll. Coming back up also isn’t really much of a problem given the gentle incline.
At about 300 metres into the walk is a lookout point. A flight of steps leads you to a viewing deck directly above the waterfall.
I didn’t think much of the view from here and returned to the track to continue walking down to the stream.
Gollum’s Pool (Tawhai Falls)
The first instinct most people have (including me) when they arrive at Tawhai Falls is to re-enact the scene from “The Lord of the Rings” as Gollum!
But when I looked at the falls, my first thought was, “wow, it’s even prettier in real life!”. The scene from the movie doesn’t do justice to the turquoise blue waters, and force at which the water flows into the pool.
Although you can wear flip-flops to reach the falls, it helps if you’re wearing shoes and want to explore the rocks around the falls. After all, the rocks are where Gollum sat, fishing and singing.
To get close to the waterfall requires you to scramble over the rocks on the shore. Depending on the time of day or the season, the rocks may be slippery. Exercise caution.
Sitting close to Tawhai Falls, I could imagine what it must have been like to shoot the scene here. I got lost in remembering in the movie and then in the natural beauty around me.
The pool where the water gushes into is safe for swimming. But I believe most people refrain from swimming here because the water is icy cold!
Although Gollum’s Pool is famous because it was featured in “The Lord of the Rings”, you don’t have to be a fan of the trilogy to appreciate the natural beauty of the waterfall!
Other things to do around Gollum’s Pool (Tawhai Falls)
Tongariro National Park, where we witnessed the raw beauty and untamed spirit of New Zealand’s natural wonders, was the highlight of our trip to the North Island!
Located in the central North Island of New Zealand, Tongariro National Park is a magnificent destination for nature lovers and adventure enthusiasts alike. Established in 1887, it is one of the oldest national parks in New Zealand and holds a unique status as a dual World Heritage Site due to its significant cultural and natural values.
Tongariro Alpine Crossing
The most famous attraction in the park is the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, one of New Zealand’s most famous day hikes. This 19.4-kilometer trail takes you through diverse terrains, including steaming vents, emerald lakes, and volcanic craters, providing an unforgettable experience.
Taranaki Falls Walk
Close to Gollum’s Pool is Taranaki Falls, a picturesque waterfall that cascades down a height of 20 meters against a backdrop of lush alpine scenery. The 2-hour Taranaki Falls walk/hike winds through ancient forests, across babbling streams, and up gentle slopes, treating visitors to beautiful scenes in the Tongariro National Park.
For LOTR fans, the “Meads Wall” (another filming location for “The Lord of the Rings”) is a short 15-minute drive from the Tawhai Falls Walk.
Located on Mount Ruapehu, The Mead’s Wall area was used in some Lord of the Ring scenes depicting Emyn Muil, the barren, rocky landscape in which Frodo and Sam had a difficult time crossing before they meet Gollum. From here, you can marvel at the stunning Mount Ngauruhoe, which was used as a stand-in for the fictional Mount Doom in The Lord of the Rings film trilogy.
And not to forget, Mount Ruapehu is also one of the most popular destinations in New Zealand for skiing and snowboarding.
Honestly, Tongariro National Park has the most awe-inspiring landscape of active volcanoes, alpine meadows, ancient forests, and crystal-clear lakes on the North Island!
Where to stay in Tongariro National Park
Looking back at our visit to Tongariro National Park, we wish that we’d stayed there longer. We just couldn’t get enough of the natural beauty and the countless outdoor activities!
As far as accommodations go in Tongariro National Park, there is a spattering of villages around the park where there is limited accommodation. We stayed at the Tongariro Springs Boutique Suites in Erua, which was amazing because we had nothing but nature around us.
National Park Village
Erua is close to the National Park Village, which is the most central and popular village for visitors to the park.
The village of Ohakune is another extremely popular destination for those wanting to stay close to Tongariro National Park. I honestly thought that Ohakune was the most picturesque village around the park. With views of sheep grazing across lush green rolling hills and Mount Ruapehu in the background, I fell in love with this town!
Our guide to Gollum’s Pool (Tawhai Falls)
We hope you found our guide to Gollum’s Pool (Tawhai Falls) resourceful and that it inspired you to visit the waterfall when you’re in Tongariro National Park.
Even if you’re not a fan of The Lord of the Rings trilogy, the waterfalls are definitely worth visiting. And if you love waterfalls, then we urge you to visit Wairere Falls, the tallest waterfall on New Zealand’s North Island!
But if you are a fan of the trilogy, then there is no way you’re leaving the North Island with visiting Hobbiton! You can read about our experience of visiting the Hobbiton Movie Set Tour.
And of course, if you enjoyed this waterfall, we highly recommend the Taranaki Falls Walk. The Taranaki Falls Walk is simply spectacular and awe-inspiring!