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Thunder Creek Falls, New Zealand – Guide for Travelers

Thunder creek Falls, New Zealand

In this guide, I have written about everything you need to know about Thunder Creek Falls. This blog includes information about Thunder Creek Falls including how to get there, the trail, what facilities are available, as well as photos that are sure to make you want to visit this incredible waterfall for yourself!

Thunder Creek Falls, New Zealand

Along the windy roads that lead south to Wanaka and Queenstown from New Zealand’s gorgeous West Coast, you can stumble upon a few breathtaking hidden gems. The journey that takes you through New Zealand’s glacier country, beautiful forests and mountains landscapes is a well-traveled one. However, it can be easy to miss some highlights (including Thunder Creek Falls) as you get lost in the amazing views.

Most times, only a small sign that can be hidden by branches is all that points you in the right direction. However, to make things easier and to ensure you to get to experience this magical place, I have written a short guide on everything you need to know about Thunder Creek Falls!

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What is Thunder Creek Falls, New Zealand?

Thunder Creek Falls is a 96m high waterfall that feeds into the Haast River. The waterfall is fed by melting glacier water and the entire area is pristine. It is definitely one of the best destinations in the South Island.

The waterfall is made up of one single stream that bursts out from the steep cliffs that line the Haast River. That cliff is covered in thick, green, lush vegetation.

Thunder Creek Falls is truly one of New Zealand’s most beautiful waterfalls (trust us on that, we have seen a lot of waterfalls in New Zealand!)

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Thunder Creek Falls

Where is Thunder Creek Falls located?

Thunder Creek Falls is located only 1.5 hours north of Wanaka along the most common route for anybody doing a South Island West Coast road trip – the Haast Pass.

To get there from Wanaka take South Highway 6 and head north for 90km until you see the sign. There is a small carpark on the left side and a large pullover bay on the right!

If you are heading in the other direction then the falls are a 2 hour, 170km drive from Fox Glacier Township heading south.

You can easily find the location on Google Maps, just keep your eyes open because you don’t want to miss it!

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How long is the hike to Thunder Creek Falls?

The hike (if you can even call it that)  to Thunder Creek Falls is only 5 minutes at most and the path is well maintained and flat.

This hike to Thunder Creek Falls could be completed by almost anyone and the path could even be accessed by wheelchair. You don’t even need shoes, thongs (flip-flops) would suffice.

It isn’t often that such a beautiful waterfall is so easily accessible. Take advantage of this short 5-minute detour on your road trip and check it out!

Thunder creek Falls, New Zealand
Taking in the amazing views!
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Are there any facilities at Thunder Creek Falls?

There are no toilets at Thunder Creek Falls! The nearest public toilet facilities are at Pleasant Flats just a few minutes drive down the road.

There is a viewpoint at the end of the path and a few stairs that lead down to the river if you want to get a closer look.

Signs are posted at the start of the trail and have information about the falls and the surrounding area.Thunder creek Falls

Tips for Visiting Thunder Creek Falls

  • Visit early in the morning or later in the afternoon – Thunder Creek Falls can get very busy midday in the summer months. Busloads of tourists visit making it not so peaceful. Going earlier or later in the day will help you avoid these tour groups.
  • Wear bug repellent – there are many sand flies in the area and while their bites don’t seem too bad at first, but later on you will be very itchy! Any type of bug repellent will do the job for this or just cover up.
  • Bring a tripod – If you want to take some awesome slow-shutter photos you will need your tripod!
  • Wear a swim suit – If you want, brave the ice-cold water and go for dip!


Nearby attractions

Fox Glacier – located near Franz Joseph, Fox Glacier is another cool place to visit. Seeing the signs that show how the glacier is retreating is a real eye-opener!

Franz Joseph glacier – Franz Joseph is New Zealand’s most popular glacier and the free hike to the lookout is truly a site worth seeing.

Blue Pools – This amazing blue water is definitely worth checking out! There is also a pretty cool suspension bridge here!
Fantail Falls – This waterfall is not as amazing as Thunder Creek Falls, however, it’s a great place to check out and explore!

Wanaka – Be sure to photograph the famous “That Wanaka Tree” and do the Diamond Lake Walk as well as hike Roys Peak!

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Overall, Thunder Creek Falls was for sure one of my highlights on our journey from Fox Glacier to Queenstown. The waterfall is really something special and it is a great place to enjoy a quiet lunch and a breath of fresh air.

I hope this blog post has both helped and inspired your amazing journey through this amazing country. New Zealand’s landscapes never stop inspiring us!

For more ideas of where to stop on a road trip along the South ISland West Coast check out our blog, Where to Stop on a New Zealand West Coast Road Trip!
Also, we have TONS of blogs about New Zealand! Be sure to check them out and see if there is any other valuable information we can offer!

-Daniel

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