12 Most Wonderful Waterfalls in New Zealand© NZPocketGuide.com
12 Most Wonderful Waterfalls in New Zealand

20 Most Wonderful Waterfalls in New Zealand šŸ˜

© NZPocketGuide.com

Who Doesn’t Like a Good Waterfall?

We don’t know why, but rapids and water falling from a height make us humans rather thrilled! With that in mind, we devised this list of some of the most wonderful waterfalls in New Zealand.

Of course, with so many waterfalls across the country, it’s a tough task to feature only a few. The great thing about many of the waterfalls in New Zealand is that they are easy to access just off the side of the main state highways. Check the list below for some of the most stunning waterfalls in New Zealand.

If mind-blowing land formations are your thing, visit our 20 Stunning Beaches in New Zealand and 20 Mind-Blowing Lakes in New Zealand. As you can tell from our titles, we are fond of our adjectives.

1. Sutherland Falls

One of New Zealand’s tallest waterfalls, Sutherland Falls, can be seen on scenic flights over the renowned Milford Sound, as well as from the Milford Track Great Walk. At a whopping 580 m (1,904 ft), this series of three cascades originating from Lake Quill is surely a sight to behold.

Location: Milford Track, Fiordland National Park, South Island.

12 Most Wonderful Waterfalls in New Zealand© Unsplash

2. Huka Falls

Huka Falls is the most visited natural attraction in New Zealand and, apart from the effortless access to its many stunning viewpoints, it’s easy to see why. The Waikato River squeezes more than 220,000 l (58,118 gal) per second where the river suddenly narrows. Either park up at the Huka Falls car park and view the falls from multiple lookouts on both sides of the river, or enjoy the 1 hr 30 mins walk from Spa Park where you can also bathe in the hot pools of Otumuheke Stream. See more of the 8 Best Walks in Taupo.

Location: Huka Falls Road, Taupo, North Island.

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3. Purakaunui Falls

Like a wedding cake, Purakaunui Falls has three tiers of splendour! This waterfall is only one of many to discover in the off-the-beaten-track destination of The Catlins. Enjoy the view from the base of the waterfall after a 20-minute wheelchair-friendly walk through the forest.

Location: Purakaunui Falls Road approximately 6.3 km (4 mi) south of Owaka, The Catlins, South Island.

12 Most Wonderful Waterfalls in New Zealand© NZPocketGuide.com

4. Kitekite Falls

[Update: The track to Kitekite Falls has closed due to cyclone damage. See the Auckland Council website for track updates]. 

Another wedding cake waterfall, Kitekite Falls is a popular waterfall to discover in the Auckland region. The waterfall can be accessed from the 1-hour Kitekite Bush Walk, which requires a bit of scrambling to get up close to the base of the falls. While you’re in the area, don’t miss the beautiful black sands of Piha Beach, as well as more of the 10 Best Things to Do in Piha.

Location: Glen Esk Road, Piha, Waitakere, Auckland, North Island

12 Most Wonderful Waterfalls in New Zealand© NZPocketGuide.com

5. Stirling Falls (Waimanu Falls)

There are no lack of waterfalls in Milford Sound and this one has to be the most photographed of them all! Most travellers have a close encounter with the 155 m (509 ft) Stirling Falls when cruising right underneath the falls on a Milford Sound cruise.

Location: Milford Sound, Fiordland National Park, South Island.

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6. Bridal Veil Falls (Wairēinga Falls)

A no-nonsense waterfall named after what it looks like, Bridal Veil Falls is a 55 m (180 ft) waterfall located just outside of Raglan. You can get great views from several platforms near the top of the falls, as well as more platforms on the way down. Check out more things to do nearby in the 15 Best Things to Do in Raglan.

Location: Te Mata Road approximately 19 km (12 mi) south of Raglan, Waikato, North Island.

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7. Devil’s Punchbowl Falls

Climb the gradual incline up the steps to the base of Devil’s Punchbowl Falls, which can be accessed on a 1-hour return walk. This 131 m (430 ft) waterfall in the magnificent Arthur’s Pass National Park is a highlight of this popular road trip between Greymouth and Christchurch.

Location: Arthur’s Pass Village, Arthur’s Pass National Park, South Island.

20 Most Wonderful Waterfalls in New Zealand šŸ˜© ChristchurchNZ

8. Rere Falls

It is worth taking a break at Rere Falls on the way to Gisborne. At this fun and free natural attraction, it’s impossible to not take a good picture! What it lacks in height it makes up for in width, creating a cascade worthy of any Instagram account.

Location: Wharekopae Road, approximately 50 km (31 mi) from Gisborne, North Island.

NZPocketGuide.com© NZPocketGuide.com

9. Rere Rockslide

Almost a waterfall, the Rere Rockslide is worth a mention because, once armed with a bodyboard or a lilo, you can use it as a waterslide! What’s more, the rockslide is only moments away from Rere Falls (see above). For more Gizzy antics, check out the 20 Best Things to Do in Gisborne.

Location: Wharekopae Road, approximately 50 km (31 mi) from Gisborne, North Island.

12 Most Wonderful Waterfalls in New Zealand© NZPocketGuide.com

10. Tawhai Falls

See Gollumā€™s Pool! Well, Tawhai Falls is one of the waterfalls to depict the scene in The Lord of the Rings where Gollum is catching fish under the watchful eye of Faramir and his archers. The quick walk takes you to a good photo opportunity of the waterfall tumbling over the edge of an ancient lava flow. For more details on the short walk, check out the DOC website.

Location: Whakapapa Village, Tongariro National Park, North Island.

NZPocketGuide.com© NZPocketGuide.com

11. Thunder Creek Falls

A beauty along the Haast Pass Road, Thunder Creek Falls is simply awesome because you can take pictures like the one below! Follow a super short trail from the roadside to a viewing platform and even get a closer look at the 28 m (92 ft) by rock-hopping on the Haast River below.

Location: Haast Pass, Mt Aspiring National Park, South Island.

NZPocketGuide.com© NZPocketGuide.com

12. McLean Falls

Another stunning waterfall on the Catlins Coast, McLean Falls has multiple tiers of beauty. After a 20-minute walk through the forest with another waterfall to tease you along the way, you’ll emerge at the base of McLean Falls. The step-like formations just beg for a clamber to the upper pool. See more Catlins wonders in the 20 Amazing Attractions in The Catlins.

Location: Rewcastle Road, approximately 11.6 km (7.2 mi) south of Papatowai, The Catlins, South Island.

12 Most Wonderful Waterfalls in New Zealand© NZPocketGuide.com

13. Whisky Falls

For your waterfall fix in the Nelson Lakes National Park, take the Lakeside Track along the shores of Lake Rotoiti. The three-hour-return walk takes you through lush forest and over shallow streams to the main event, the 40 m (131 ft) Whisky Falls. Grab your photos quickly before the sandflies inevitably drive you away.

Location: Mount Robert Road, approximately 5 km (3.1 mi) from St Arnaud, Nelson Lakes National Park, South Island.

20 Most Wonderful Waterfalls in New Zealand šŸ˜© NZPocketGuide.com

14. Owharoa Falls

One of many interesting sights along the Karangahake Gorge Historic Walkway from the Eastern Portal Bridge, Owharoa Falls can be found along an old railway track. The cascading falls and the pool below is a popular spot for swimming in summer. For more free activities in the area, see the 10 Free & Cheap Things to Do in the Coromandel.

Location: State Highway 2 between Paeroa and Waihi, Waikato, North Island.

20 Most Wonderful Waterfalls in New Zealand šŸ˜© NZPocketGuide.com

15. Rainbow Falls (Waianiwaniwa Falls)

One of the most breathtaking waterfalls in New Zealand but incredibly easy to walk to, Rainbow Falls can be found in the Bay of Islands. The 27 m (88 ft) falls are an impressive sight captured from several different perspectives. Stand above the waterfall from the platforms just a short walk from the Waipapa Road car park. You can also walk down to the base of the falls and even scramble behind them if you are feeling adventurous.

Location: Waipapa Road, Kerikeri, Bay of Islands, North Island.

20 Most Wonderful Waterfalls in New Zealand šŸ˜© NZPocketGuide.com

16. Whangarei Falls

Another easy waterfall to check out when road-tripping in Northland and the Bay of Islands, Whangarei Falls awaits just moments away from Northland’s main centre. It’s hard not to be impressed by this 26 m (85 ft) waterfall accessible only moments away from the car park. Extend the experience by getting different views of the falls on a 30-minute loop walk, or even follow the walking tracks down the Hatea River for a pleasant bushwalk. See more experiences nearby in the 15 Best Things to Do in Whangarei.

Location: Ngunguru Road, Whangarei, North Island.

20 Most Wonderful Waterfalls in New Zealand šŸ˜© NZPocketGuide.com

17. Haruru Falls

One last one from the Bay of Islands (we promise), Haruru Falls is definitely worth mentioning due to the unique way to experience it. Join a kayak tour up the Waitangi River to cruise through the mangroves before paddling under Haruru Falls. Alternatively, the waterfall is easy to access just off Haruru Falls Road or take the Waitangi-to-Haruru Falls Track along the Waitangi River. The winding mangrove boardwalk and bush trail take around 2 hrs 30 mins to complete one way.

Location: Haruru Falls Road, approximately 5 km (3 mi) from Paihia, Bay of Islands, North Island.

20 Most Wonderful Waterfalls in New Zealand šŸ˜© NZPocketGuide.com

18. Taranaki Falls

An easy loop walk in the Tongariro National Park follows a crystal clear river to the impressive Taranaki Falls. The falls cover surrounding rocks with ice in winter, so be careful if going down for a closer look. The track takes you to the top of the falls and then continues to the starting point offering views of the volcanoes along the way.

Location: Whakapapa Village, Tongariro National Park, North Island.

20 Most Wonderful Waterfalls in New Zealand šŸ˜© NZPocketGuide.com

19. Wairere Falls

From one enchanting place to another, the Wairere Falls walk will take you through moss-covered rocks and tree roots like something out of a fairy tale. Walk the 45-minute trail to the first lookout of the highest waterfall on the North Island cascading an impressive 153 m (502 ft). There’s also an option to do the complete 3-4-hour walk on a less-maintained track for a different perspective of the falls.

Location: Goodwin Road, approximately 15.6 km (9.7 mi) north of Matamata, Waikato, North Island.

20 Most Wonderful Waterfalls in New Zealand šŸ˜© NZPocketGuide.com

20. Wainui Falls

A fantastic short walk yet lesser-visited feature of the Abel Tasman National Park, Wainui Falls is on the Golden Bay side of the park. Cross farmland for a short distance until you reach lush native forest with scattered granite boulders and a swing bridge leading to the cascading Wainui Falls. Return the same way on this 1 hr 20 mins return track. For more things to do in Golden Bay, check out 20 Epic Natural Attractions in Golden Bay.

Location: Wainui Bay, Abel Tasman National Park, South Island.

20 Most Wonderful Waterfalls in New Zealand šŸ˜© Unsplash

Frequently Asked Questions About Waterfalls in New Zealand

What are the most asked questions about New Zealand waterfalls on the internet? Let’s find out!

What is the Highest Waterfall in New Zealand?

Terror Falls in the Poseidon Valley of the Fiordland National Park is the highest waterfall in New Zealand at 750 m (2,460 ft).

What is the Name of the Most Beautiful Waterfall in New Zealand?

Beauty is, of course, subjective but many would agree that Purakaunui Falls in The Catlins is the most beautiful waterfall in New Zealand.

How Many Waterfalls are in New Zealand?

New Zealand is home to countless waterfalls but according to Land Information New Zealand, there are 249 named waterfalls in New Zealand.

What is the Biggest Waterfall in NZ North Island?

The biggest waterfall on New Zealand’s North Island is Wairere Falls at 153 m (502 ft) high!

What is the Smallest Waterfall in New Zealand?

Ok, so no one is asking this, but this attraction does exist ironically as Niagara Falls in The Catlins.

20 Most Wonderful Waterfalls in New Zealand šŸ˜© NZPocketGuide.com

 

More About Natural Attractions and Waterfalls in New Zealand

That’s it for our list of the best waterfalls in New Zealand. For more amazing natural attractions to oggle at, take a look at the following lists:

Finally, if you’re feeling inspired to plan the perfect trip, be sure to bookmark The Best Travel Guide to New Zealand.

Author

Laura S.

This article was reviewed and published by Laura, editor in chief and co-founder of NZ Pocket Guide. Since arriving solo in New Zealand over 10 years ago and with a background in journalism, her mission has been to show the world how easy (and awesome) it is to travel New Zealand. She knows Aotearoa inside-out and loves sharing tips on how best to experience New Zealand’s must-dos and hidden gems. Laura is also editor of several other South Pacific travel guides and is the co-host of NZ Pocket Guide’s live New Zealand travel Q&As on YouTube.

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