Getting there and what to see
Rainfall, mountains and runoff create a series of waterfalls on the must-go destinations for waterfall buffs and outdoor enthusiasts. The majority of waterfalls are located in the Mount Aspiring National Park. Places to go walking embrace; remote dramatic coastline where rare penguins breed, rugged mountain ranges with cascading waterfalls, lush wetlands where ancient trees tower over the landscape and quiet glacial lakes the West Coast, Haast region is packed with top sights for outdoor enthusiasts.
- ROARING BILLY FALLS. A great short walk (1km) through a fern filled glen opens to the gravel bed of the Haast River. Enormous granite boulders force cascading waterfalls over the boulders into deep pools at the base. Care is needed if you access the base of the waterfalls.
- THUNDER CREEK FALLS. The waterfall drop is 96 metres and is located in the Mount Aspiring National Park. Carpark, no toilet facilities, suitable for wheelchairs
- FANTAIL FALLS. The fantail shaped waterfall is 23 metre drop and is located in the Mount Aspiring National Park. Carpark, no toilet facilities, suitable for wheelchairs. Approximately 10 minute walk.
- DEPOT CREEK FALLS, excellent after rain however the short track to the waterfalls is not managed by the Department of Conservation. Care is needed. There is a small carpk at Depot Creek bridge. The waterfall is approximately 10 metre, cascading waterfall
These walks are part of the attractions of Mount Aspiring National Park: Places to go in Otago.
- Roaring Billy Falls Walk, class waterfall fans rejoice
- Mirrored remote lakes, Mapourika and Paringa where residents number in the single digits
- HAAST Blue Pools – easily accessible suitable for all fitness levels
HAAST BLUE POOLS – TOP PICK
Suspension bridge, deep blue pools, silver beech forest and viewing platform to the much photographed BLUE POOLS flow into the Makarora River. ‘An easy short walk through mature beech and podocarp forest leads to these natural wonders of pure glacial water gathered from the mountains. Travel through open flats for spectacular mountain views and enjoy the coolness of the beech forest to a swing bridge over the Makarora River. Continue on a boardwalk to the second swing bridge, which is the viewing platform over the Blue Pools. Cross this bridge for great views up the river gorge.
There’s a limit to the number of people allowed on the swing bridges at any one time – be prepared to wait at each end if numbers allowed have been reached. The river is home to wild brown and rainbow trout that can be seen feeding in the pools.
Return on the same track.’ Blue Pools Track: Mount Aspiring National Park, Otago region.
CAN YOU SWIM IN THE BLUE POOLS?
Yes, however it is a glacial fed river, very cool even in summer and avoids the rapidly flowing river. Care is needed in the very deep pools to ensure hypothermia does not occur.
The Young River Link Track continues on from the Blue Pools bridge.
- Length: 1.5 km (one way, loop track)
- Easy, well maintained track.
Approximately 70 km from Wanaka and often are part of day trips from Wanaka.
MAKARORA BUSH NATURE WALK
Makarora Bush Nature Walk An easy walk (15 minutes return, 1 km) from the Makarora Visitor Centre. This looped nature walk passes through a remnant patch of lowland podocarp/silver beech forest, including large specimens of mataï, miro, kahikatea and rimu. Another feature is a pitsaw display, illustrating this pioneering timber milling technique. The walk is well signposted.
The car park is located by the DOC office in Makarora township along the Haast Highway (SH6), 60 km north of Wanaka.
HAAST – MOUNT ASPIRING NATIONAL PARK WALKS
A botanical anomaly known as the beech gap begins at Lake Paringa.The area marks the beginning of a stretch of land where podocarp rainforest has regenerated after glaciers cleared the area 18,000 years ago. Because of this, no beech trees grow between Lake Paringa and Taramakau River, south of Greymouth. The lake is a remote hidden gem with fishing, nature walks on the Jamie Creek Walkway and soaking up the peace the quiet top things to do.
Birdlife on the lake includes crested grebe, scaups, mallard ducks, shags and shovelers, the fastest flying waterbirds in New Zealand. In the forest, you may spot kaka, bush falcons and kereru, the native New Zealand wood pigeon.
WALK THE HAAST TO PARINGA CATTLE TRACK
This is an advanced walk following the footsteps of cattle ranchers moving their livestock to market. This track was built in 1875 by farmers at Haast. Stock was driven from the Landsborough and Cascade valleys to sale yards at Whataroa, a two-week journey at best. It’s now a three-day tramp. Historic Haast to Paringa Cattle Track.
Walking trail 29 km
Department of Conservation manages a scenic campsite Lake Paringa Campsite.
LAKE MAPOURIKA KAYAKING & WALKING
The pristine lake with its mirrored reflections is a photographer’s favourite spot for the West Coast sunset moment. At the top spot of Jetty Bay you can be part of a kayaking tour on the lake with Franz Josef Wilderness Tours. Journey across Lake Mapourika and through a hidden estuary to the Okarito State Forest, a primeval remnant of the world during the Jurassic Period and home of the Okarito Kiwi Sanctuary. Quiet and tranquil, with incredible views of the weather and moods of New Zealand’s highest mountain peaks mirrored in the black tannin-filled waters, it’s a fantastic way to take in the area.
The lake is close to Franz Josef Glacier. The out-flowing Ōkārito River drains it into the Ōkārito Lagoon. It is the largest of the West Coast lakes, a glacier formation from the last ice age.
Lake Mapourika is off State Highway 6
TRAVEL PACK INFORMATION
Check out Walks & Hikes in the West Coast for holiday inspiration.
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