Purakaunui Falls

Visit the Catlins’ most famous waterfalls to see why it has adorned postcards and postage stamps for decades.

Rising to national fame in the mid 1970s following its use on the New Zealand postage stamp, Purakaunui Falls have remained among the most photographed waterfalls in the country ever since. Today, the waterfalls attract thousands of visitors annually. Come to see its three tiered cascades, photograph its 20-metre (66-foot) drop and make use of the relatively short walk to reach the falls. With a viewing platform that is accessible by wheelchair, Purakaunui Falls offer a fantastic waterfall experience for visitors of all ages and hiking ability.

Take the short detour from the Chaslands Highway, one of the most impressive and unpopulated stretches of the South Island’s famous Southern Scenic Route, to reach the car park for Purakaunui Falls. Those visiting the falls in summer will find a busy car park and a number of families picnicking in the designated picnic area. Bring a packed lunch to enjoy with views of the dense forest of the Catlins Forest Park.

Embark on the short walk from the car park to reach the falls in just 10 minutes. Look for a series of signs to learn about the flora and fauna of the region. The Catlins Forest Park includes a dense temperate rainforest and provides a home for a number of rare species of bird, including yellowhead and the New Zealand parakeet.

An accessible viewing platform provides great photo opportunities of the three-tiered waterfall. Continue down the designated path for a view of the falls from their base, where you can see the terraces of the falls and watch as the river continues behind you.

Reach Parakaunui Falls in just 15 minutes by car from Owaka. A car park provides free off-road parking. Find toilets adjacent to the picnic area. The falls have no fee to visit and they can be seen every day of the year.