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Fiordland National Park is a land carved by glaciers, where waterfalls cascade hundreds of meters into impressive fiords. There’s nothing quite like a waterfall to make you feel new again, and Fiordland – our backyard – is full of them. Below, we’ve put together a list of our top five favourite waterfalls. Don’t miss adding a few to your New Zealand itinerary.
Stirling Falls is one of the most photographed waterfalls in New Zealand, and it’s not hard to see why. Deep in the heart of Lord of the Rings territory, the falls are often shrouded in mist and feel both ethereal and ghostly. If you’re willing to cop a drenching, take the two-hour boat cruise to the base of this beauty and be in awe. Cruises leave from the Milford Sound Visitor Terminal – parking is available nearby.
At 580m, Sutherland Falls is one of the highest waterfalls in New Zealand, and that alone earns it a spot on this list. Cascading down the mountainside near Milford Sound on the Milford Track, this is one of those rare places in the world where you feel the landscape is truly untouched. If hiking is your thing, then walk to the base from Quintin Public Shelter on the Milford Track – it’s about 90 minutes each way. Alternatively, splash out on a scenic flight.
Lake Marian Falls
Lake Marian Falls are a collection of cascading rapids as opposed to your textbook waterfall descending from cliff top. However, combined with a stunning nature walk through silver beech forest complete with its very own swing-bridge, you’re in for a lovely afternoon out. You can access the Lake Marian track from Hollyford Road. Look for signposts approximately 1km from the turn off.
Winding through temperate rainforest, Browne Falls are located in beautiful Doubtful Sound. The 836m high waterfall drops from high up a mountainside, descending through a series of leaps and often disappearing and reappearing again. Named after aerial photographer Victor Carlyle Browne, viewing is only possible via Doubtful Sound boat cruise or scenic flight.
Mackay Falls are another cascade waterfall ensemble located on day four of the Milford Track. They’re the type that just begs you to take long exposure photographs of the silky white water as it flows on by. The most distinguishing feature however is Bell Rock, where the water has carved out a hollow beneath it that is big enough for you to stand in and witness the waterfall by looking out. Mackay Falls are another cascade waterfall ensemble located on day four of the Milford Track. Take a guided day walk from Milford Sound to reach them.
All of these waterfalls can be found in Fiordland and are accessible by either day trip, scenic cruise or as part of the epic Milford Track.