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Epic New Zealand, find Incredible waterfalls

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New Zealand

Three weeks: a guide to 21 #nzmustdo waterfall chasing

An incredible sight, awe inducing waterfalls are the staple of a New Zealand holiday. Reach for the mobile and capture the selfie of a waterfall in its full glory. You are drenched in sprays of water, the air is damp with the power of the waterfall as you click away. You toiled, you climbed many steps to get there and the buzz is not dampened by the spray.

Marokopa Falls on North Island New Zealand
Marokopa Falls on North Island, New Zealand

Top sights

Your #nzmustdo waterfall list is at the top of your three week New Zealand holiday. Three weeks, 21 days to find and snap the selfie of your daily waterfall count.

  • Waterfalls delight all age groups from kids laughing at the delight of getting wet (and it’s not the garden hose)
  • Waterfalls are awesome places to get the perfect photo
  • Waterfalls have no admission fees (in New Zealand) as they largely located on conservation land and free to visit
  • Waterfalls celebrate rainfall and New Zealand’s great temperate climate
  • Waterfalls are usually nestled in forest setting creating a great short walk

#nzmustdo has a Milford Sound cruise and Fiordland National Park waterfall viewing on the bucket list.


Wanaka is much shorter travel time to Milford Sound than Queenstown, spend time exploring Wanaka, take a selfie against #thatwanaktree and enjoy the sights and sounds of Lake Wanaka and Lake Hawea. Okay it’s not a waterfall rather a magnificent lake which is also as good as a waterfall.


If you are looking for more mind blowing scenery check out New Zealand rock stars, where to go for geological wonders. Volcanically active, earthquakes and natural elements have formed extraordinary shapes and stunning landscapes.

Your waterfall journey starts from North to the South of New Zealand.

Year round as nature is not fussy when winter bites. For maximum waterfall flow (torrents spilling over cliffs and rocks) spring (October – December) is ideal, especially for the photos. In late summer water flow can be reduced (February-March).

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New Zealand waterfalls

New Zealand, according to the gazetteer maintained by Land Information New Zealand has “249 named waterfalls and 31 named rapids”. There are perhaps seven named “Bridal Veil”, and 17 whose names include “Rere” meaning “to leap or descend”.

Source Wikipedia

What is the highest drop waterfall in New Zealand?

Sutherland Falls, a series of three cataracts on the Arthur River, near Milford Sound South Island is among the world’s highest waterfalls with a drop of 580 metres.

High rainfall and topography are the key ingredients creating magnificent waterfalls + a handy cliff face or rocky outcrop to drop from. In New Zealand the highest rainfall occurs in Fiordland National Park, South Island and the West Coast, South Island.

Amazing aerial view of mountain Lake Quill and Sutherland Falls on the scenic flight from Milford Sound to Queenstown, Fiordland, New Zealand
Amazing aerial view of mountain Lake Quill and Sutherland Falls on the scenic flight from Milford Sound to Queenstown, Fiordland, New Zealand
Chasm Fall, Fiordland National Park, Milford Sound, New Zealand
Chasm Fall, Fiordland National Park, Milford Sound, New Zealand

Where are the most popular places to visit waterfalls in New Zealand?

New Zealand waterfall’s premier spot is Milford Sound with guaranteed torrents of water gushing from cliff faces. The popular fiord, Milford Sound visitor favourites are Bowen falls and Stirling falls. The waterfalls dropping into Doubtful Sound are Chamberlain Falls, Helena Falls and Lady Alice Falls.

Two more waterfall NZ hot spots …

Haast, Mt Aspiring National Park

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 … read more Waterfalls Haast Pass & Mount Aspiring National Park walks – Best Bits.

Thunder Creek Falls in Haast Pass, New Zealand
Thunder Creek Falls in Haast Pass, New Zealand
Couple embracing each other at McLean falls, located in Otago Region of New Zealand
MacLean Falls, Catlins, NZ

And another soggy place is The Catlins

Waterfalls with easy family friendly tracks plus glorious displays of sheets of water cascading over segmented rocks, curtains of water and water veils invoking a sense of magic. … read more 10 waterfalls & caves of The Catlins, what to see, guide: Best Bits. Explore The Catlins and be entranced by the wildlife as well as the waterfalls.

For the eagle eyed visitor you will realise the list of top waterfalls in the North and South Island has only 20 waterfalls for your three weeks (21 days) in New Zealand. Milford Sound waterfalls deserve separate billing. The leading act, Milford Sound waterfalls are simply the best bit in a country renowned for scenery. Discover the ‘new’ New Zealand with a waterfall a day adding a dash of drenched glory to the holiday.

New Zealand waterfalls are not generally a short flat walk access wise. There are usually steps, a climb to a high lookout point with walks ranging from  1-2 km to 6 – 8 km (one way). The major exceptions are Whangarei falls (view from carpark) and Milford Sound (view from cruise boat). The waterfall is the reward at the end point; nature’s treat for the effort of getting there.


Best Bits travel guide is published by Owned and managed by PacificJane Ltd.


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