Coal Creek Falls, West Coast
You’d think the West Coast, one of the wettest and wildest regions of New Zealand, would have heaps of iconic waterfalls. That isn’t really the case, so we had to get a little off the beaten path to seek some out. Coal Creek Falls, a short drive from Greymouth (on the way north to Punakaiki), is worth a visit if you’re into waterfalls (or relaxing walks through the forest). Here’s what you’ll see on a trip to Coal Creek Falls.
Walking Through the Forest
An easy forest track takes you down the hill to Coal Creek Falls. It obviously means you’ll have to walk uphill on the way back, but it shouldn’t pose much of a problem. The walk isn’t too exciting (there aren’t many views to be seen) but it’s relaxing enough and is just far enough to keep the masses away. It takes around an hour to walk to the falls and back.
Coal Creek Falls
You can get a good view of the falls from the little seat / viewpoint above, but you’ll probably want to get down the water’s edge. The rocks are quite slippery so be careful! We saw a few people swimming in the pool below the falls (it was summer but still seemed cold!) and then a couple of adventurous souls decided to climb up the rocks and jump off the top of the falls. It all looked pretty dodgy and they were taking an age to jump, so we eventually left. A few minutes later a local guy who we’d been talking to came sprinting up behind us wondering if we’d heard what happened. We obviously thought the worst, but it turns out he was just screwing with us. It was an interesting end to a fun trip to Coal Creek Falls. It’s not the most amazing waterfall you’ll see in New Zealand but it’s worth a visit when road tripping around the West Coast.
Getting to Coal Creek Falls
From Greymouth (or wherever you’re coming from) head to a small town called Runanga (it’s around 8 km from Greymouth. There is a place to park at the end of Ballance Street, where the track to Coal Creek Falls begins. It’s easy to find if you have Google Maps!
Chances are if you’ve made it as far as Coal Creek Falls that you’ll be heading at least as far as Punakaiki (another 40 minutes north). It’s a great little town with some interesting nature spots, including the Pancake Rocks and the Pororari River. From there you can continue up to Westport (check out the Cape Foulwind Walkway if you do) and Karamea (for the Oparara Arches) if you have the time.
Other West Coast Waterfalls
Some of my favourite West Coast waterfalls include Carew Falls (Lake Brunner), Dorothy Falls (near Hokitika) and Trident Falls (on the Franz Josef Glacier Track). Also inland from Haast (on the way to Wanaka) has some nice waterfalls including Thunder Creek Falls, Fantail Falls and Roaring Billy Falls.
Are you planning a trip to the West Coast? Will you visit Coal Creek Falls? Let us know in the comments below!