Purakaunui Falls is an easily accessible, yet spectacular waterfall at the end of a short forest walk within the Catlins Forest Park.
Although it’s the most photographed waterfall in New Zealand, Purakaunui Falls is still relatively unknown on the regular South Island tourist trail. That’s because far too few people tend to visit the Catlins.
A short walk through the incredible forest track reveals a waterfall that proves why this region should be a must-visit destination for anybody on a New Zealand road trip.
READ THE FULL LIST OF THINGS TO DO IN THE CATLINS
How to Get to Purakaunui Falls
The Purakauinui Falls walk is located at the end of Puraukanui Road, just off the Papatowai Highway. Driving to the waterfall carpark involves a short 2KM stretch of gravel road. This road is well maintained and accessible by all 2WD vehicles and campers.
The carpark has loads of space for vehicles, as well as a toilet and tap for water (non-potable).
Purakaunui Falls Walk
The walk down to the waterfall follows a gravel track and crosses a bridge before finishing up at a short wooden staircase down to the waterfall.
Overall, the Purakaunui Falls walk is a very easy track that doesn’t take more than 10-15 minutes to complete. While it’s not exactly an adventurous track, I was certainly blown away by the beauty of the Catlins Forest Park, passing large ferns, beech trees and crystal clear flowing rivers on the way.
What to Expect at Purakaunui Falls
Upon arriving at the waterfall, it’s easy to understand why it’s considered the most photographed waterfall in New Zealand. The waterfall neatly plunges down three even levels into a shallow pool. This then trickles further down the slopes of the shallow forest canyon. The entire scene is beautiful and definitely worth the quick detour.
Some might say that the title of “most-photographed” might be due to its easy accessibility. Still, its multi-leveled tiers and spectacular even flow make for a picturesque scene that would excite any photographer!
Testing Out Aleader Water Shoes
During the first few weeks in New Zealand, I’d been tackling some big hikes like the Keplar, Ben Lomond and a few others that you can find here. Finally, the Purakaunui waterfall was the perfect spot to test out my new Aleader shoes.
To get some unique perspectives, I had to get a little wet and therefore chucked on the water shoes for the walk. During most of my travels to waterfalls and in river crossings I’d never had a proper pair of waterproof shoes. Let me just say that these bad boys changed the tide for me.
Perks of Aleader water shoes:
- Great grip on slippery surfaces
- Super lightweight and easy to carry
- Easy to use elastic tightening mechanism
- Durable and quick-drying
After using them at the waterfall and to snap some early-morning shots in the river, I’m now fairly set on using them on other similar adventures.
More Things to do in The Catlins
The short stop to Purakaunui Falls in the Catlins was just scratching the surface of the epic adventures to be had in this region. For more detailed travel guides and ideas for things to do in the Catlins, make sure to check out some of the article links below.
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.
If you’d like to use any of the photographs on this website, please visit my licensing page to find out how. I also sell professional fine-art prints, visit my Print Store or contact me directly for customs prints of any images on We Seek Travel.