Arthur's Pass

Hiking to Devil’s Punchbowl Falls, a Stunning Waterfall in Arthur’s Pass National Park

Why Visit Devils Punchbowl Falls?

The road through the centre of New Zealand’s South Island (between Christchurch and Greymouth) makes for one of the nicest drives in the country. There is so much natural beauty to admire, and at the top of that list is the incredible Devils Punchbowl Falls. It’s a short hike to the base of this 131 metre high waterfall — it’s a must-do when driving through Arthur’s Pass.

The hike to the Falls

From the car park on Punchbowl Road it’s a short, mostly uphill hike through the forest to a viewing platform in front of the falls. You’ll cross over a couple of bridges, the second of which offers up a nice view of the falls.

Hiking to Devil's Punchbowl Falls, Arthur's Pass National Park

Getting up close to Devil’s Punchbowl Falls

The view from the main platform is pretty good but you’ll want to get closer. There’s an unmarked path before the platform or you can climb over the stair railings of the platform. From there a narrow, well defined path leads to the base of the falls. The immense power of the falls means you’ll get wet if you get too close, it’s definitely worth it though. We even saw someone swimming in the icy water — it was in late April (nearly winter) so he was brave to say the least.

We spent quite a while hanging out beneath the falls. It’s an amazing place and is definitely earns its reputation as New Zealand’s best waterfall. The scale of it, combined with the exotic green surrounds make it a natural wonder every tourist (and local) should make an effort to see.

Devil's Punchbowl Falls, Arthur's Pass, one of the best waterfalls in New ZealandGetting up close to Devil's Punchbowl Falls, Arthur's Pass National Park, New Zealand

Getting to Devil’s Punchbowl Falls

If you’re driving from Christchurch to Greymouth (or the West Coast in general) roll on through the small village in Arthur’s Pass National Park and turn right at Punchbowl Road (a few minutes outside of the village). From the car park it’s an easy 1 hour round trip hike, leave plenty of time to spend at the falls though.

Freedom Camping in Arthur’s Pass National Park

There are a couple of places to stay in the village, including the Avalanche Creek DOC camp, but if you’re looking to freedom camp you’re in luck. There are two places to legally freedom camp in non self-contained vehicles or tents, both of which are five minutes or so before the village (if coming from Christchurch). Greyneys Campsite is quite a small car park and Klondyke Corner is a large open area which is perfect for tents. We stayed at Klondyke Corner and it was pretty good — the toilet was in a decent state too which isn’t always the case at freedom camping spots in New Zealand. Stay tuned for a full post on freedom camping in Arthur’s Pass National Park.

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Jon Algie

A travel blogger from New Zealand who has just returned home after 6 years abroad. Join me as I see as much of the South Island as I can.
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