Fantail Falls, named after one of New Zealand’s cutest birds, is a small waterfall located a few minutes’ walk from the main road between Wanaka and Haast. It’s one of several easily accessible waterfalls in the area and is worth a quick look — watch out for the sandflies though!
We had no idea how long the walk to Fantail Falls would be, so when we saw a sign saying it would be five minutes we were pretty happy (we love hiking but we had lots of short walks lined up for that day). It’s a very easy walk to the riverbank and from there you’ll need to walk over stones to the edge of the river, where you’ll get a good view of Fantail Falls. It’s on the opposite side of the river, so unless you want to swim / wade across the fast flowing river (which I wouldn’t recommend) it’s as close as you’ll get.
READ MORE: 18 Fun Things to Do in Wanaka — so many awesome hikes, beaches and viewpoints!
At 23 metres, it’s not the most impressive waterfall in the region, but the setting makes up for that. The crystal clear Haast River is surrounded by dense forest — it’s crazy to think you’re only a couple of minutes from the main road!
One thing you’ll notice is the abundance of stacked rocks (cairns). It seems to be a spiritual thing, although after 5 minutes of online research I’m still not entirely sure why people do it. One explanation I found online was that “some people are just into stacking stones”.
I also better mention the sandflies. They are notorious in these parts and they are pretty annoying. Try and get some insect repellent before visiting this region. You can buy some in various places along the way but it’ll be more expensive.
Getting to Fantail Falls
Fantail Falls is part of Mount Aspiring National Park and is located on the main road between Wanaka and Haast. It’s 87 km from Wanaka and 55 km from Haast. It takes around two hours to do the trip between Wanaka and Haast but we did it in five hours. There are so many cool places to stop, including Roaring Billy Falls, the Blue Pools and Thunder Creek Falls. It’s one of the prettiest roads in New Zealand and everyone should try and drive it at least once.
READ MORE: Check out the post I wrote for my other blog on the drive from Wanaka to the West Coast
Spending some time in New Zealand? Check out our South Island Travel Guide for lots of tips!
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