Waterfalls in New Zealand

Complete Details Of Fantail Falls

Complete Details Of Fantail Falls

Complete Details Of Fantail Falls.Fantail Falls is a stunning natural attraction located on the South Island of New Zealand. This waterfall is renowned for its picturesque beauty, accessibility, and the captivating scenic drive that leads visitors to its doorstep.

Geographical Location:

Fantail Falls is situated in the southern part of New Zealand’s South Island, specifically within the West Coast region. It is nestled amidst the lush rainforests and rugged landscapes of the South Island, making it a prime example of New Zealand’s breathtaking natural beauty.

Access and Transportation:

One of the remarkable features of Fantail Falls is its easy accessibility. It is located just off the Haast Highway (State Highway 6), making it a popular stop for travelers journeying between the West Coast and the Otago region, including popular destinations like Queenstown and Wanaka.

Visitors traveling from Queenstown or Wanaka typically take State Highway 6, which offers breathtaking views of lakes and mountains along the way. The journey itself is a scenic delight, and Fantail Falls is conveniently located approximately 30 kilometers (18.6 miles) northwest of Haast township. There are prominent road signs indicating the way to the falls, and ample parking is available.

Natural History and Formation:

Fantail Falls owes its existence to the dynamic geological and climatic processes that have shaped New Zealand’s landscape over millions of years. The waterfall is a result of glacial activity during the last Ice Age, which carved out the valleys and created the dramatic terrain seen today.

The falls themselves are formed by the Haast River, which originates in the Southern Alps and flows westward towards the Tasman Sea. As the river meanders through the steep valleys, it encounters various geological features, including ancient rock formations and fault lines. Fantail Falls is located at a point where the river cascades over a series of rocky outcrops, creating a picturesque waterfall with multiple tiers.

The name “Fantail Falls” is derived from the native New Zealand bird, the fantail (Piwakawaka in Maori). The waterfall’s appearance is often likened to the fan-like tail feathers of this charming little bird.

Flora and Fauna:

The surrounding rainforest is teeming with a diverse range of plant and animal life. New Zealand is renowned for its unique flora and fauna, much of which is endemic to the country due to its isolation from other landmasses. While visiting Fantail Falls, keep an eye out for native tree species such as rimu, kahikatea, and matai, which contribute to the lush green canopy.

Birdwatchers will be delighted by the opportunity to spot native avian species such as the fantail (piwakawaka), tui, bellbird (korimako), and possibly even the elusive kiwi if you’re lucky. The forests and rivers in this region provide vital habitats for these indigenous creatures.

Cultural Significance:

Fantail Falls and the surrounding landscape hold cultural significance for the indigenous Maori people of New Zealand. In Maori mythology, waterfalls are often seen as the tears of the land or the trails left by the ancestors. While Fantail Falls may not have specific mythological associations, it is part of the larger natural tapestry that holds spiritual and cultural value for Maori communities.

Visitors are encouraged to respect the land and its cultural significance by following ethical and sustainable tourism practices. Leave no trace, take only photographs, and be mindful of the environment and its significance to the indigenous culture.

Complete Details Of Fantail Falls

Complete Details Of Fantail Falls
Complete Details Of Fantail Falls



Visiting Fantail Falls:

Fantail Falls is a destination that caters to a wide range of travelers, from those seeking a quick roadside stop to more adventurous hikers and photographers.

Here are some key points to consider when planning your visit:

  1. Accessibility: The falls are easily accessible from Haast Highway, and a short walk from the parking area leads you to a viewpoint that offers a splendid view of the waterfall. This viewpoint is wheelchair-friendly and suitable for visitors of all ages.
  2. Photography: The falls provide excellent opportunities for photographers. The soft, misty cascades of water create a dreamy atmosphere, especially in the early morning or late afternoon light. Be sure to bring your camera or smartphone to capture the beauty.
  3. Swimming: While the water can be tempting on a hot summer day, swimming in the Haast River near the falls is not recommended due to strong currents and unpredictable water levels.
  4. Hiking: For those interested in more active exploration, there is a trail that leads closer to the base of the falls. This short walk allows you to experience the waterfall from different angles and get up close to the cascading water.
  5. Weather: New Zealand’s weather can be changeable, so it’s advisable to check weather forecasts before your visit. Additionally, pack appropriate clothing, including rain gear, as the West Coast is known for its frequent rainfall.
  6. Safety: Exercise caution when walking on slippery surfaces near the falls, and always follow safety guidelines and signage. Rocks near the waterfall can be slippery, and the water flow can vary with the seasons.
  7. Conservation: Respect the natural environment and refrain from disturbing plants or wildlife. Carry out any trash you bring with you to help preserve the beauty of this pristine area.

Best Time to Visit:

Fantail Falls can be visited year-round, but the best time for your visit may depend on your preferences and interests:

  • Spring (September to November): Spring brings lush greenery and the rejuvenation of the landscape after winter. Water flow is generally good during this season.
  • Summer (December to February): Summer offers warm weather, making it a popular time for swimming in the nearby rivers. However, expect more crowds during this period.
  • Autumn (March to May): The fall foliage creates a stunning backdrop, and fewer crowds make it a peaceful time to visit.
  • Winter (June to August): While the waterfall is still accessible in winter, be prepared for cooler temperatures and potentially icy conditions on the roads.

Nearby Attractions:

Fantail Falls is conveniently located near several other attractions and activities that make for a well-rounded trip in the area:

  1. Thunder Creek Falls: This beautiful waterfall is just a short drive from Fantail Falls and offers another stunning natural spectacle.
  2. Haast Pass: Continue your journey through Haast Pass to experience even more of the region’s natural beauty, including rainforests, lakes, and towering mountain peaks.
  3. Hiking Trails: The surrounding area is a hiker’s paradise, with numerous trails catering to different skill levels. Consider exploring some of the nearby tracks to immerse yourself further in New Zealand’s wilderness.
  4. Gillespies Beach: A bit farther west from Fantail Falls, this coastal gem provides a unique contrast to the rainforest scenery with its rugged shoreline and fascinating history.
  5. Galleries and Craft Shops: Haast and nearby towns have galleries and craft shops where you can explore and purchase local art and crafts, including jade carvings and Maori artwork.


Fantail Falls, located on New Zealand’s South Island, is a testament to the country’s natural beauty. Its accessibility, rich natural history, and cultural significance make it a must-visit destination for travelers exploring the West Coast region. Whether you’re simply stopping by for a quick photo or planning a more extended visit to explore the surroundings, Fantail Falls promises an unforgettable experience in the heart of New Zealand’s wilderness. Remember to respect the land and its cultural significance while enjoying the mesmerizing beauty of this remarkable waterfall.