Waterfalls in the South Island
The South Island Waterfalls seemed to be appropriate attractions in an island that seemed to be the wilder and less populated of the major islands of New Zealand. Dominated by the snowy Southern Alps running along its spine, it separates the island into distinct climate regions from the wet and wild West Coast bordering the Tasman Sea to the drier Canterbury Plains east of the alps. Along with the extremes of Nature, we enjoyed contrasting our bush experiences with the conservative/urban mix of Christchurch, the quirky college town of Dunedin, and the adrenaline-junkies’ hotspot in Queenstown.
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As you can see from the map at the top of this page, the waterfalls were all over the South Island regardless of whether it was in dry and sunny climates in the east or the soggy wet climates to the west. By going waterfalling throughout this island, we also benefited from visiting the imposing Mt Cook (Aoraki), the glacier-fed colourful lakes at Tekapo, the Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers, the coastal scenes in locales like Abel Tasman National Park, and the sea life off the coast of Kaikoura among others.
Among the waterfalling highlights in the island include the iconic Sutherland Falls as well as Humboldt Falls deep in Fiordland. We also waterfalled the windswept Catlins Forest, where we visited Purakaunui Falls and McLean Falls. Then, there were towering waterfalls such as Devil’s Punchbowl Falls and even wide ones like Maruia Falls.
Indeed, what we described here merely scratched the surface of the diversity of activities on offer in the South Island. The waterfalling was our excuse to go well beyond most tourist itineraries, yet there was so much more to truly experience this wilder side of Aotearoa!