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McLean Falls in the Catlins, New Zealand

McLean Falls in the Catlins, New Zealand

Olly Gaspar

By Olly Gaspar, full-time traveler for 6 years. I visit every place I write about & share real tips, photos, & advice from my trips.

McLean Falls New Zealand is a popular waterfall walk in the Catlins Coastal Region to a rewarding, multi-leveled waterfall!

McLean Falls, Catlins New Zealand is a popular but quick stop worthy of any Catlin’s road trip itinerary. The waterfall is very easily accessible and is one of my personal favourite waterfalls in the area.

RELATED: Waipohatu Waterfall Loop in the Catlins

How to Get to McLean Falls

The McLean Falls is located on the Tautuku River and is best reached by private car or campervan. The road conditions are sealed, however, the last stretch of about 3 kilometres follows a gravel road before finishing at the large car park.

The best way to find it is to follow the directions to the map pin below.

There are also plenty of signs on Chaslands Highway that will give you the warning to turn off. The road you'll need to follow to the waterfall car park is called "Recastle Road.

Map of mclean falls

McLean Falls Walk

The walk to one of Catlin's most iconic waterfalls is a pleasant and easy one. The first section is boarded, before entering the native forest where you'll follow the Tautuku River up towards the waterfalls.

There are actually numerous great freshwater swimming spots along the walk, so keep an eye out near the start of the track.

After about 10-15 minutes of walking, you'll reach the lowest waterfall. However, you can't stick around here too long, since the DOC have designated it as a rock-fall area. Keep going for another couple of minutes and you'll reach the clearing for the two main waterfalls.

Mclean falls stream
Mclean falls catlins


McLean Falls Main Waterfall

At the end of the walk, we were surprised to find out that there wasn't a direct track access to the larger, main McLean Falls waterfall. However, that wasn't too much of a problem, since it's easy to scramble up the low rocks on the right side of the falls and then walking over to the main waterfall.

Mclean falls catlins
Main waterfall at McLean Falls New Zealand
Mclean falls, catlins
Rocks to climb to gain access to the main waterfall.

Still, this part isn't really necessary, since you can still admire the lower cascading waterfalls and get a glimpse of Mclean Falls from here too.

Mclean falls catlins new zealand
Grayl water filter bottle

Get Clean Drinking Water on Your Hike

I take the Grayl GeoPress Purifier Bottle on every hike and use it as my go-to source for filtering water all over the world. I've even used it to drink tap water in India!

Compare how the GeoPress stacks up against the best water bottle filters on the market.

More Things to do In the Catlins

After snapping some photos and potentially taking a dip down on the calmer flows of the river, you'll be ready to continue your Catlins road trip adventure!

If you enjoyed this guide to McLean Falls, Catlins New Zealand, make sure to check out some of my other free travel guides and articles below. You could also check out this full list of epic things to do in the Catlins or find more Catlins waterfalls here.

Mclean falls main waterfall
Mclean falls aerial


Thanks for Reading

I'm Olly Gaspar, adventure traveler from Australia. I’ve spent the last six years traveling the world full-time, sharing my first-hand experiences & photography in over 700 travel guides on We Seek Travel. I visit every destination I write about to bring you unique travel itineraries, epic hiking routes, fun tour ideas, travel & photography gear ideas, & interesting places to stay.

I only make genuine, worthwhile recommendations based on my experience, expertise, & research. If you buy through my links, I may get a commission, supporting this website at no extra cost to you. Read my Publishing Ethics Statement.