New Zealand's Most Breathtaking Waterfalls

Devils Punchbowl Falls, New Zealand
Devil's Punchbowl Falls, New Zealand | © Jose Gallego/Flickr
Thalita Alves

New Zealand is filled with natural treasures. You only need to venture into its national parks, forests and alpine ranges to find some of the finest waterfalls you will ever see. We’re about to head on a picture-perfect journey of the most breathtaking of these cascading wonders.

Sutherland Falls

With a staggering 580 metres (1,900 feet) in height, the Sutherland Falls is widely believed to be New Zealand’s tallest, although that claim is sometimes contested. People can catch a glimpse of this stunning waterfall while they’re exploring the Milford Track or taking a helicopter tour of Fiordland National Park.

Sutherland Falls

Lady Bowen Falls

Lady Bowen Falls, Fiordland National Park

Huka Falls

What the Huka Falls lacks in height, it definitely makes up with its rapids. Housed in New Zealand’s largest lake, this 11-metre (36-foot) fall is particularly attractive to jet boaters and adventurous travellers exploring the Lake Taupo region.

Huka Falls

Kitekite Falls

One of the best renowned waterfalls dousing Auckland’s Waitakere Ranges. The Kitekite Falls is characterised by its three-tiered, 40-metre (130-foot) cascades, which descend into an impressive lake-like pool. The waterfall can be reached via a 45-minute walk from Piha beach.

Kitekite Falls

Bridal Veil Falls

Also known as Waireinga, the Bridal Veil Falls is located along the Pakoka River, approximately 15 minutes from the Waikato town of Raglan. Its waters cascade over a basalt cliff that was formed after a volcanic eruption some 2 million years ago. This 55-metre-high (180 foot) waterfall can be accessed via a clearly marked walking track at the Waireinga Scenic Reserve.

Waireinga Falls

Purakanui Falls

A 10 minute walk into the Catlins Forest Park will take you to the region’s iconic Purakanui Falls. This three-tiered, 20 metre (66 foot) cascade is quite popular among landscape photographers and was even featured in a postage stamp in 1976.

Purakanui Falls, New Zealand

Devil’s Punchbowl Falls

Head to Arthur’s Pass National Park to encounter the stunning Devil’s Punchbowl Falls. A one-hour return hiking journey will lead you across the beech forests — which are also surrounded by native birds — as you get up close and personal to this spectacular 111-metre (364-foot) waterfall.

Devil’s Punchbowl Falls, New Zealand

Tawhai Falls

Lord of the Rings fans will probably know the Tawhai Falls as Gollum’s Pool, the area where Faramir and his archers are watching Gollum as he fishes. The waterfall is located in Tongariro National Park, plunging over the fringes of an ancient lava flow that’s encircled by beech forests. You can access it via a 20-minute return walking track near Whakapapa Village.

Tawhai Falls, Tongariro National Park

McLean Falls

The 22-metre (72-foot) McLean Falls are part of the Tautuku River in Catlins Conservation Park. A relatively easy uphill trek, that traverses through tree fuchsia and podocarp forests, will give you access to this waterfall. Widely regarded as one of the area’s most spectacular, the McLean Falls tumbles into a deep gorge after descending over a series of steep terraces.

McLean Falls

Owharoa Falls

The staircase-like Owharoa Falls are a definite must-visit if you’re exploring the Karangahake Gorge, especially if you’ve taken up the challenge of cycling the Hauraki Rail Trail. Consisting of three waterfalls that plunge into scenic swimming spot, the Owharoa Falls are best viewed by climbing up the stairway that finishes at its base.

Owharoa Falls

Stirling Falls

Another Milford Sound gem. Stirling Falls is the second highest in the area, coming in at a solid 151 metres (495 feet) in height. If you like your action movies, the Alkali Facility in X-Men Origins:Wolverine was set above the Stirling Falls.In the real world, the waterfall is a hit among thrill-seeking kayakers and canoeists trying to view the glacial waters from underneath.

Stirling Falls, Milford Sound

Thunder Creek Falls

The 96-metre (314-foot) Thunder Creek Falls is located in Mt Aspiring National Park near the Haast Highway. It is a fantastic stopover option for those travelling into Wanaka; the waterfall is within a 1.5-hour driving distance. The Thunder Creek Falls Walk, which is just a 10-minute return journey, will get you to the waterfall’s viewing platform. This track is suited for all fitness levels, and the fall’s base is just as easy to access if you want to view it from a different perspective.

Thunder Creek Falls

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.

Culture Trip Spring Sale

Save up to $1,100 on our unique small-group trips! Limited spots.

Edit article