Here are a list of four incredible Catlins waterfalls that show you a glimpse of what this incredible part of New Zealand’s South Island has to offer.
Although frequently missed by travellers on the South Island, The Catlins is one of the most beautiful places in New Zealand. Although I had limited time to explore this incredible region, I was able to visit four epic and easily-accessible waterfalls.
Here’s the roundup of 4 incredible Catlins Waterfalls not to miss on your New Zealand trip!
Getting Around The Catlins and New Zealand’s South Island
Due to being relatively tucked away, the Catlins is one of the least visited of the tourist hotspots in New Zealand. This is due to a lack of public transport to the coastal region.
However, if you have your own campervan or rental car, I’d highly recommend adding the Catlins to your road trip itinerary.
While exploring New Zealand, I rented a Spaceship with Spaceships Rentals. They have one of the most affordable camper setups in all of New Zealand and I’d highly recommend it!
READ THE FULL LIST OF THINGS TO DO IN THE CATLINS
Catlins Waterfall Map
Here’s a quick and easy map to help you plan your waterfall-hopping trips.
4 Epic Catlins Waterfalls – New Zealand’s Hidden Gems
Without further ado, here’s the list. If you find any more that I missed, make sure to let me know by sending me an email or leaving a comment below.
Matai Falls is one of the best bang-for-buck waterfalls in the Catlins. What I mean by this is that for a quick road stop, you get rewarded with two epic forest waterfalls!
Matai Falls is located in the Table Hill Scenic Reserve and is accessible from a short walk just off the Papatowai Highway!
FULL BLOG POST: MATAI FALLS AND HORSESHOE FALLS IN THE CATLINS – NEW ZEALAND
McLean Falls is one of the most popular of all waterfalls in the Catlins. At 22 metres, this waterfall is also one of the tallest and most impressive – definitely shouldn’t be missed!
While not “quick roadside stop” like many of the others on this list, McLean Falls is still easily accessible from the highway. A quick 3KM dart down a well-maintained gravel road will take you to a large waterfall on the edge of the forest.
From here, it’s another quick 30-minute walk along the Tautuku river towards McLean Falls.
FULL BLOG POST: MCLEAN FALLS IN THE CATLINS, NEW ZEALAND
Featured on “Narnia” and also holding the title of “most photographed” waterfall in New Zealand, Purakaunui Falls is another spectacular spot worth checking out.
Like the others, Purakaunui Falls is accessible from an easy walk through native forest. The waterfall itself neatly plunges down a three levels before gently spilling into a shallow pool.
FULL BLOG POST: PURAKAUNUI FALLS WALK – CATLINS, NEW ZEALAND
Waipohatu Falls is my personal set of favourite waterfalls in the Catlins – and not just for the waterfalls themselves.
Located in the Waikawa Forest (Catlins Conservation Park), Waipohatu Falls is the name given to two waterfalls; Puriwai Waterfall and Punehu Waterfall.
Both waterfalls differ in aesthetic but are both beautiful, plunging waterfalls surrounded by lush, native forest.
This track is a little longer than the others, taking around 3 hours for the full loop. However, if you’ve got penguin-spotting at Curio Bay on your itinerary, then the Waipohatu waterfall loop is well-worth the quick detour.
FULL BLOG POST: WAIPOHATU WATERFALL LOOP HIKE IN THE CATLINS – NEW ZEALAND
More Things to do in the Catlins
I hope this quick guide has convinced you to get off the beaten path and explore one of New Zealand’s best-kept secrets!
If you find more waterfalls in the Catlins that I’ve missed in this article, make sure to let me know!
MORE CATLINS TRAVEL GUIDES AND BLOGS
MY CAMERA AND PHOTOGRAPHY EQUIPMENT
- Mirrorless Camera: Canon R5
- Drone: DJI Mavic Pro 2
- 360 Action Camera: Insta360 One X2
- Landscape Lens: Canon RF 15-35mm f/2.8L
- All-Round Lens: Canon RF 24-105mm f/4L
- Telephoto Lens: Canon RF 100-500mm f/f/4.5-7.1 L
- Long Action Pole: Insta360 Invisible Pole (BulletTime)
- Landscape Lens Filter: Hoya Circular Polarizer
- Camera Backpack: F-Stop Tilopa
- Favorite Photography Accessory: Peak Design Capture Clip
For a list of all my recommended photography gear (including what I use and why) check out my guide to camera gear for travel.