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Waterfalls of Aotearoa

September 23, 2021
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The latest edition of our lifestyle magazine Kōwhai featured a list of must-see New Zealand waterfalls. But the mountainous terrain of our islands and regular rainfall means that Aotearoa has too many beautiful waterfalls for a single feature. So, here are a few more for those of you seeking adventure.

 

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Whangārei Falls, Whangārei

Easy

All abilities

The star of our Kōwhai feature, Whangārei Falls, sits a stone’s throw from Whangārei centre and 2.5 hours from Auckland. This waterfall is so beautiful that we had to do more than tell you about it. We had to show you! Watch this video of Mary, a resident at Ryman’s Jane Mander Village, taking us on a tour of her local falls.

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Finding the falls is easy. Drive the sealed road to a carpark on Boundary Road where you’ll find a well-maintained picnic spot. From there, take the wheelchair friendly walking path to the upper lookout. Prepare yourself for ‘ooh-ing’ and ‘aah-ing’ when confronted with this waterfall – it’s power and beauty have stunning many visitors.


It’s important to note that this waterfall can have little or no water during a dry summer. It’s worth keeping an eye on the weather during the warmer months to avoid disappointment.

 

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Purakaunui Falls, Catlins
Easy
All abilities


Cascading 20 metres over three tiers of rock, Purakaunui is an easy 20-minute walk from the carpark. Nestled in the Catlins, this stunning waterfall is one of Aotearoa’s most iconic and photographed wonders. You may have already seen it on a postcard or travel website, but we recommend making the trip regardless because this waterfall is breathtaking in person. Follow the short wheelchair accessible trail through a podocarp and beech forest to the top viewing platform. A soundtrack of native birds accompanies the view of this famous waterfall.

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The Brook Stream Waterfalls, Nelson
Medium
Knee-deep stream crossing


Several waterfalls rest at the head of The Brook stream, waiting patiently to delight visitors. The short 15-minute drive from Nelson and the donation fee upon entry are a small price to pay for this unique experience. Begin by driving through Brook Valley Holiday Park to The Brook Waimarama Sanctuary’s large carpark. Make your way to the loop track without crossing the stream and you will find the first waterfall within 10 minutes. This dainty 3-metre waterfall features several miniature falls flowing over a short rocky lip into a crystal-clear pool. Continue following the track to explore several more equally beautiful waterfalls.

 

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Hunua Falls, Auckland

Easy

All abilities

 

This dramatic waterfall can be found 1 hour’s drive from Auckland City on sealed roads. Its well-maintained carpark area is a popular picnic spot and the waterfall pool attracts local swimmers on a hot day, so pack some snacks and a towel because you might end up staying a while! From the carpark, follow an easy walking track for 5 minutes to the waterfall’s lower lookout. From here you can choose to walk to a second lower lookout where you can touch the base of this powerful waterfall or follow an equally easy trail to the upper lookout for another perspective.

 

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Coal Creek Falls

Easy-Medium

Stairs with resting benches

 

You’ll find Coal Creek Falls 10 minutes from Greymouth. The 1-hour return walk begins at the carpark and leads to the base of the falls. While there are several stairs along the well-maintained trail, there are also plenty of benches for weary walkers. Or those simply enjoying the view! The waterfall is a popular swimming spot frequented by locals and visitors alike, so throw a towel in your backpack.

Watch out for the misleading official sign stating 2 hours return. You’ll notice that the map positioned 5 minutes from the beginning of the walk lists the walk as 1-hour return.

 
Special thanks to Mary for taking us to Whangārei Falls. Mary also gave us a tour around her hometown Whangārei. You can watch it here.