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Thunder Creek Falls, Mount Aspiring National Park

Thunder Creek Falls, Mount Aspiring National Park

Thunder Creek Falls is, in my opinion, the best waterfall to visit on the road between Wanaka and the West Coast. It’s also one of the most accessible large waterfalls in New Zealand (although you can only see it from across the river) — the viewing platform / river’s edge is just a two minute walk from the main road.

Thunder Creek Falls

Thunder Creek Falls is the ultimate lazy person’s waterfall as there is no long, uphill hike to get there (as is often the case in New Zealand). At 28 metres, it’s one of the largest waterfall in the area. It crashes down a forested hill into a small pool, which you can’t really get to as it’s on the other side of a swift river. They really need to build a bridge over there – but I guess the lack of access keeps it kind of unspoilt.

It’s a pretty awesome sight though.  It can get quite busy but you can generally get an unobstructed view. As with the other waterfalls in the area, part of Thunder Creek Falls’ appeal is the bright blue / green river flowing in front of it — rivers don’t get much more exotic than this!

You can walk down to the edge of the water for a different angle, or to escape the crowds. Sandflies are an issue in this region so try and get some insect repellent beforehand and cover up if you can.

Getting to Thunder Creek Falls

Thunder Creek Falls is located on the road between Wanaka and Haast, around an hours’ drive from Wanaka. It’s just after the Blue Pools and Fantail Falls, both of which you should definitely visit. Further down the road is Roaring Billy Falls, another stunning waterfall near Haast.

READ MORE: I wrote a post on my other blog about the drive from Wanaka to Haast – check it out!

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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.