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Wild waterfalls

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September 2018 Issue

Five easily accessible waterfalls anyone can view.

Waterfalls seem to fascinate people, regardless of the fact that in a mountainous country like New Zealand, they are pretty common. Walkers like to witness the spectacle of water tumbling and roaring over a defile, while photographers enjoy capturing the flow with slow shutter speeds. Here are five thunderous waterfalls everyone can visit.

1- Tarawera Falls, Lake Tarawera Scenic Reserve

These falls seemingly come from nowhere, thundering out of a cliff in two voluminous flows, to disgorge into the nearby Tarawera River. A viewing platform offers a good vantage point of the falls, accessible on an easy 20 minute track from the car park. You’ll need a permit to access the falls through private forestry roads, which can be arranged through the Kawarau i-Site or online. 

2- Aniwaniwa Falls, Te Urewera

Reached on a short track from near the visitor centre at Aniwaniwa, these small but attractive falls cascade over two small escarpments a short distance before the stream flows into Lake Waikaremoana. Allow 20 minutes return.

3- Marokopa Falls, King Country

The 35m Marokopa Falls tumble in a pleasing curtain over King Country cliffs. A viewing platform at the base of the falls is accessible on a 20 minute track from Te Anga Road, which connects Waitomo and Marokopa. Some rate them as New Zealand’s most beautiful falls, but of course that’s entirely subjective. 

4- Devil’s Punchbowl Falls, Arthur’s Pass National Park

These thin but impressive falls tumble for 131m into a pool beneath cliffs in the Bealey Valley, forming one of the most popular destinations in the national park. From a car park near Arthur’s Pass Village, the track crosses first the Bealey River, then the Punchbowl Creek in quick succession, before climbing a path with a series of stairs to reach the viewing platform. Allow 25-30 minutes each way. 

5- Thunder Creek Falls, Mt Aspiring National Park

Another slender waterfall, but one with a big sound, the Thunder Creek Falls are a popular destination, accessible on the Haast Pass Highway. The falls tumble 96m over a forested face into the Haast River which here is a modest watercourse. Allow 5-10 minutes each way on an easy track.