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Fantail Falls, Mount Aspiring National Park

Fantail Falls, Mount Aspiring National Park

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 Wānaka 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!

Fantail Falls

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

Fantail Falls, Mount Aspiring National Park, New Zealand

At 23 metres, it’s not the largest or 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!

READ MORE: Check out our post about the scenic drive from Wānaka to Haast

Clear river near Fantail Falls, Mount Aspiring National Park, New Zealand

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’ve also seen some negative press about people doing this (especially in America). I had no idea it was controversial!

READ MORE: Wānaka Itinerary: How to Spend Three – Seven Days in Wānaka

A cairn at Fantail Falls, Wanaka to Haast road, New Zealand

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 There

Fantail Falls is part of Mount Aspiring National Park and is located on the main road between Wānaka and Haast. It’s 87 km from Wānaka and 55 km from Haast. It takes around two hours to do the whole trip but we did it 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.

Spending some time in New Zealand? Check out our South Island Travel Guide for lots of tips!

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Jon Algie

I'm a South Island local -- born in Timaru and raised in Dunedin. I left the island in 2006 and returned 10 years later. Having seen a good chunk of the world I realised how special this place is -- the most beautiful island in the world! Seven years (and almost 400 posts) later I'm still helping locals and tourists alike plan their trips around the South Island.