Thunder Creek Falls, West Coast

Top 10 most beautiful waterfalls on the South Island of New Zealand

Sutherland Falls

Top 10 most beautiful waterfalls on the South Island of New Zealand

The South Island of New Zealand is known for its rugged nature with many mountains, lakes, glaciers and waterfalls. If you also love to admire waterfalls, visit these 10 beautiful waterfalls on the South Island of New Zealand.

Map waterfalls New Zealand

South Island waterfalls map
Click on the image to enlarge

1. Stirling Falls in Milford Sound

Milford Sound is a paradise for waterfalls. When it has rained heavily (and it often does!) you can see waterfalls on all sides of the fiord. You can see this particular waterfall, Stirling Falls, even when it hasn’t rained. The boat tours in Milford Sound pass by this waterfall and some boats, like the one I was on, go by very close so you even get a free shower, if you prefer not to, you can go inside at that time.

2. Waipohatu Falls (the Catlins)

The Waipohatu Falls consists of two waterfalls, the Upper Waipohatu Falls and the Lower Waipohatu Falls, but the falls are completely different from each other. One is wide and has a few layers while the other is very thin, very forceful and almost falls straight down. To see these waterfalls you have to walk quite a bit and the route is also quite intense. The walk takes about 3 hours and passes through beautiful native forests.

3. McLean Falls (the Catlins)

Mclean Falls is a beautiful, diverse waterfall. It falls straight down at the top, where a large pool of water has formed, then the water continues to run down and a cascade waterfall has formed there. This waterfall is easily accessible with an approximate 20-minute walk from the parking lot through native forests. This is the most popular waterfall in the Catlins.

4. Purakaunui Falls (the Catlins)

The Purakaunui Falls are beautiful cascading waterfalls that are also easy to reach. As with the McLean Falls, the walking time is approximately 20 minutes from the parking lot and you walk through beautiful forests. If you are traveling with a photo camera, this is a great waterfall to play with your shutter speed.

5. Thunder Creek Falls (West Coast)

The Thunder Creek Falls is a waterfall that falls straight down. What makes this waterfall so beautiful is the environment. It is surrounded by green forests and mosses and it ends in a river with an amazing blue color. This is a must if you are driving through the West Coast, it is also only a 5 minute walk from the parking lot.

6. Fantail Falls (West Coast)

The Fantail Falls got its name because it spreads from a small river into a beautiful waterfall. This is also a very accessible waterfall that you only have to walk about 2 minutes from the parking lot for. Besides the waterfall you can see the Haast river and many tiny towers that are built with the stones that lay there (can be seen in the photo).

7. Trident Creek Falls (West Coast)

This name is also very appropriate, because the river splits into three, creating three waterfalls. This waterfall can be admired on the same hiking route that takes you to Franz Josef Glacier. It is located about a 30 minute walk from the car park.

8. Devil’s Punchbowl (Arthur’s Pass)

Devil’s Punchbowl was the first waterfall I saw in Arthur’s Pass and it was so intense! So much water spewed out that you could see it from afar. We then hiked the 30 minutes to see it up close and there was so much fog coming off we got completely wet. I don’t think it’s always that intense, but it is certainly a special waterfall! In the picture you can also see how much mist comes from the waterfall.

9. Humboldt Falls (Milford Sound)

Humboldt Falls was a fun, quick stop on the way to Milford Sound. The walk is only 30 minutes in total and runs through a beautiful green forest. The chances of seeing native birds are also very high here. At the end of the trail you have a view of the Humboldt Falls, a very high waterfall that is also surrounded by green nature. Unfortunately I lost quite a few pictures from this trip and I don’t have a nice picture anymore, but this picture still gives an idea of ​​what it is like there.

10. Wainui Falls (Abel Tasman)

This is one of the most impressive waterfalls in the Abel Tasman National Park. It is a small waterfall of 20 meters, but a very beautiful one. The route to get there (Wainui Falls Track) takes a little less than an hour and a half return. During this hike you will walk through a forest, and you will find a suspension bridge at the waterfall.

Map waterfalls New Zealand

South Island waterfalls map
Click on the image to enlarge

Other popular activities on the South Island of New Zealand:

Okay, I may have added two bonus waterfalls. These are beautiful waterfalls, but very difficult to reach. If you take up the challenge and visit these waterfalls, it is certainly worth it.

11. Sutherland Falls 

This waterfall can be seen in the famous movie: Mission Impossible – Fallout. This 580 meter high waterfall is also one of the highest waterfalls in New Zealand. The only problem is that it is very difficult to get there as you have to hike the Milford Track for 4 days. An easier way, but a more expensive one, is to take a plane or helicopter. These depart from Queenstown, Te Anau and Milford Sound itself, among others.

12. Routeburn Falls

The Routeburn Falls is an impressive cascade waterfall that, you guessed it, is located on the Routeburn Track. The Routeburn Track is one of the Great Walks and it takes 3 days. The Routeburn Track continues along the river where the Routeburn Falls is located.

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