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.
By Olly Gaspar, traveler, travel blogger & photographer for 5+ years with 600+ published travel guides. I visit every place I write about & share real tips from what I learn.
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 car park involves a short 2KM stretch of gravel road. This road is well-maintained and accessible by all 2WD vehicles and campers.
The car park has loads of space for vehicles, as well as a toilet and tap for water (non-potable).
Car Rentals in Tasmania
Unfortunately, the cost of bringing your own car on the Spirit of Tasmania has skyrocketed in recent years.Now, it is usually cheaper to rent a car on arrival. I recommend using DiscoverCars in Tasmania to compare rates for different vehicles across dealerships.
(Rentals are limited in Tasmania so it's a good idea to book in advance).
Purakaunui Falls Walk
- Length: 20 minutes return
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
- Waterfall Height: 20 m
- Waterfall Type: Tiered / Plunging
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!
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.