‘Must be risked for Insta pic’: Thousands of social media users sneak into closed Omanawa Falls

Most videos start out the same way. There is a screenshot of No Entry Signals. Then it quickly turns to young men, some of them teenagers, jostling down a steep hill slope toward the forbidden waterfall.

Immanoa Falls, near Tauranga, has long been closed because the steep and dangerous path poses a high risk of infection.

This became very real on Sunday when the body of a man was found after he had run into trouble. It is unclear if the accident was on the right track or in the water. Another man drowned in 2018, and an increasing number of people need to be rescued.

Inside the mouth of the cave at the Emmana Falls.

@ samoliverhagan / Waikato Times

Inside the mouth of the cave at the Emmana Falls.

The popularity of the falls was blamed on social media for the increase in crowdsNow, Tauranga City Council, which owns the land, has enough, and is likely to engage the police for future trespassers.

The difficulty of the path is evident in the dozens of recent social media posts; TikTok, Instagram and YouTube users posted several videos during 2020 of their trips to the waterfall.

Thousands of videos and photos have been posted online of people reaching the falls.

Screengrab / TikTok

Thousands of videos and photos have been posted online of people reaching the falls.

Read more:
* Local hap to see the dangerous Omanawa waterfalls near Tauranga
* The $ 3.8 million project is to reopen the fatal Amnawa Falls near Tauranga
* The dangerous Omani waterfalls may get an upgrade and open its doors to the public soon

You must first pass at least six large signs, warning that entry is not permitted. Videos then show another large fence – apparently climbed by climbing a rock face nearby. One of the videos shows a rope hanging from another cliff, and almost all of them show guys climbing a very long ladder.

Ladder on a closed driveway.

Screengrab / TikTok

Ladder on a closed driveway.

The videos seem to be a celebration of challenge, detailing the perilous journey down the hill culminating in the emerald blue waters of the river and waterfall.

One of the videos shows a rope leading down a steep rocky face.

Screengrab / TikTok

One of the videos shows a rope leading down a steep rocky face.

Some posts got tens of thousands of views and received backlash from viewers. A concerned TikTok user asks the video maker, “Please stop promoting this place.” The poster replies: “The walk is dangerous, we picked up the trash and left it cleaner than it was when we got here.”

Further in the comments, the poster reacts to Sunday’s death, saying “Someone else died on the fall. Please don’t go there because the path is very dangerous. It deserves no life and taboo. I hope I know myself before I go.” However, the video remains active.

Most of the videos have several signs telling them not to be allowed in.

Screengrab / TikTok

Most of the videos have several signs telling them not to be allowed in.

Other rule-breakers have taken a more militant approach to online criticism. When asked to be more respectful of Mana when they (who have a spiritual connection to the waterfall), one TikToker replied, “How about no.”

Another video is amazingly risky. The film begins with high German submarine Iris Schmidbauer, Red Bull Cliff Diving rival, standing on top of a fall in a powerful stream with a spectator filming it. Then start somersaulting from above. The jump took place in September. The second angle of the jump, looking from below, shows the photographer bending to the side, hanging on a rope while filming the jump. Schmidbauer did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

German submarine Iris Schmidbauer flagged herself as being in the fall and posted a video of herself jumping.

Screengrab / TikTok

German submarine Iris Schmidbauer flagged herself as being in the fall and posted a video of herself jumping.

Instagram has more posts than TikTok, with over 1000 photos and videos tagged as being shot on fall. The photos show several young men swimming in the emerald pool. One user posted: “I have to risk it for Insta pic.”

A social media user commented on her photo:

Supplied

A social media user commented on her photo: “She should be risked for Insta pic.”

After the last death, the council was satisfied. “We are extremely frustrated and disappointed with the amount of social media and other online content promoting Oman Waterfalls to the public that access has been closed due to high safety risks,” says General Manager, Community Services, Gareth Wallis.

Unfortunately, despite being closed, some people continue to visit the waterfalls. This has resulted in an increasing number of people being seriously injured in addition to the death of two people. The steep slopes around Amnwa waterfalls are very unstable in some parts, and there is currently no safe infrastructure. Will facilitate safe access to the site. “

A user was photographed holding a guard sign indicating no entry.

Screengrab / TikTok

A user was photographed holding a guard sign indicating no entry.

Since December, members of the local hapū group, Ngāti Hangarau, have patrolled the grounds to warn users not to reach the waterfall. The patrol had left early on the day of the last death due to bad weather – they assumed no one would fall.

The council says it will continue to use the local hapū to patrol through the summer, and if anyone ignores their warnings, action will be taken.

“We have discussed options with the police about trying to control public encroachment on someone else’s property upon a fall,” Walles says, “and agreed to report vehicle records to the police of people who are just descending, despite seeing and uttering warnings.

The dangers of visiting the picturesque Immana Falls in the western Gulf of Plenty after dying there on Sunday were tragically revealed.

One rule-breaker said Things In response: “Instead of trying to eliminate the danger, they should try to improve the course and reduce the danger. A beautiful waterfall should not be hidden.”

The council is working on a long-term plan to open the waterfalls with safe access, but in the meantime, Wallis is asking people to “Please respect the falls’ and” Rahwi “. [access restriction] This is in place. “

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