McLean Falls

This two-part waterfall is the end-point of an easy walk through varied forest and bush land and one of the most impressive in the Catlins area.

With a combined height of about 22 metres (72 feet), the two-part McLean Falls are a great photo opportunity for anyone wanting to see the varied landscape of the Catlins region. Access the falls by a manageable 40-minute return hike. McLean Falls feature an upper and lower section and a series of terraces in the Tautuku River. Enjoy relief from the summer sun as you walk beneath towering ferns. Weave your way under low-lying, moss-covered branches as you discover the stunning local flora of the Catlins Conservation Park.

Conveniently located near the Southern Scenic Route, McLean Falls are some of the most accessible falls in the region. However, because of the popularity of the nearby Purakaunui Falls, these falls are often overlooked, leaving visitors amazed at the quiet paths and lack of crowds upon arrival.

Begin your walk by crossing a small wooden bridge that passes over the Duckaday Creek, named by an early settler of the region who used the creek for bathing. Peer along its banks to look for local birds of the region, including the tui, pipipi and kereru, a native pigeon.

Pass through patches of large fuchsias, dense podocarp forests and towering rimu trees as you get closer to the falls. The sound of the lower falls will be heard long before you reach the pool.

While many visitors are happy with the vista from the lower falls, those willing to climb the stairs and switchbacks for an additional 5 minutes will enjoy stunning photo opportunities from the upper viewing platform. Watch as a thin waterfall plunges onto the first terrace before fanning out and falling a second time to the Tautuku River below.

Reach McLean Falls in just 45 minutes from Owaka. Free parking is available on site. Visitors are advised to wear sturdy walking shoes and bring plenty of water, as no services are available at the falls.