McLean Falls Walk

McLean Falls Walk



42 Rankers Reviews

30 Face-to-Face

1 Waikawa

Your Nature Guide

Marios Gavalas's avatar

Marios Gavalas

Author And Researcher

Nau mai, haere mai

Nau mai, haere mai

I'm Marios, delivering the best of Aotearoa's nature walks to your device.

I've personally walked hundreds of New Zealand's tracks and spent months in libraries uncovering interesting information on New Zealand/Aotearoa. And you'll find a slice of that research on this page - enjoy!


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McLean Falls - pretty primo


1.5 km return | 40 minutes return

The main falls cascade approximately 15 metres over the steep headwall of the gully, then trickle over the terracettes formed from exposed layers of alternating mudstone and sandstone. The luxuriant fern growth takes advantage of the shaded location and the cool spray of the falls.


McLean falls are well signposted along Rewcastle Road on the Southern Scenic Route between Chaslands and Papatowai. The unsealed road continues 3.5 km to the roadend carpark (with toilets).


This well tended track was completed in 1998 with efforts from DoC and Kings High School.

It initially passes through an open section of forest with notable trees including Olearia ilicifolia (Maori Holly), with its spiky leaves. Interpretation plaques name prominent species.

As the track enters the gully the vegetation becomes denser and greener. Mosses and ferns occupy all available surfaces and the haunting contorted branches of fuchsia (kotukutuku) impart a redness. The Tautuku River echoes off the banded mudstone walls of the cleft, a sound amplified as you approach the falls. These drop in three main tiers, the larger two only visible after a brief steep zigzag climb.


Feature Value Info


DOC Southland

Central government organisation


South IslandSouthlandWaikawa


  • Walking
  • Free


Showing 13 reviews of 38.

Samantha Brewin's avatar

Samantha Brewin

Ranking: 10/10

Awesome lush waterfall and rainforest walk!

Reviewed over 4 years ago

Barbara Knops's avatar

Barbara Knops


Ranking: 9/10

Very nice bush walk, easy to walk. But there were a lot of people on the walk.

Reviewed about 5 years ago and experienced in December 2016

Ramon Corbett's avatar

Ramon Corbett

New Zealand

Ranking: 10/10

Hidden gem of a waterfall, easy 45 minute walk and very rewarding. Can get right up beside the amazing falls.

Reviewed about 5 years ago and experienced in November 2016

CMG's avatar


New Zealand

Ranking: 10/10

At the time of writing, these are my favorite falls in all of New Zealand. After a beautiful, creekside walk, you arrive at truly enchanted stepping back in time. Don't miss it! To better experience the beauty and magic of this place, avoid summer crowds by visiting very early in the morning, or late in the day. And be sure to enjoy the lower falls as well as the upper falls and pool.

Reviewed over 5 years ago

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Tracey Scoffin's avatar

Tracey Scoffin

Ranking: 10/10

Lovely walk, gorgeous waterfall. Not too steep not too slippy.

Reviewed over 5 years ago

Denisa Tuckova's avatar

Denisa Tuckova

Czech Republic

Ranking: 8/10

Beautiful waterfalls and after the exquisite bay.

Reviewed over 5 years ago and experienced in March 2016

Philippa Buchanan's avatar

Philippa Buchanan

Ranking: 10/10

BAH-utiful short walk through temperate rainforest to a lovely waterfall.

Reviewed almost 6 years ago

Sydney Lupton's avatar

Sydney Lupton


Ranking: 10/10

This would be one of my favourite walks in New Zealand! Really easy trek to the most wonderful misty waterfall! And past that is a sweet path to the top!

Reviewed almost 6 years ago and experienced in February 2016

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Brenda Oomen's avatar

Brenda Oomen


Ranking: 7/10

Very nice waterfall, but so very crowded that people were irritated when you wanted to take a picture.

Reviewed almost 6 years ago and experienced in March 2016

magdalena gomez haedo's avatar

magdalena gomez haedo


Ranking: 7/10

Nice park with many black swans and huge lake. We went in autumn so there were beautiful colours due to the trees. The falls weren't the best. Not wild.

Reviewed about 6 years ago and experienced in February 2016

Madelaine Sirch's avatar

Madelaine Sirch


Ranking: 8/10

Beautiful walk to the waterfalls. An amazing forest with nice ferns.

Reviewed about 6 years ago

Jasmina Walt's avatar

Jasmina Walt


Ranking: 10/10

Gorgeous place, but a lot of tourists.

Reviewed about 6 years ago

Chris's avatar



Ranking: 10/10

You walk 3km through really nice rainforest and then you see the 100m high waterfall on five steps. In the afternoon, the sun is shining on the highest step which makes it even more beautiful.

Reviewed about 6 years ago

DOC Managed

Thanks to all the good people working for the NZ Department of Conservation - for all your hard work - making NZ more beautiful, accessable and healthy! Cheers 😍

Cymen Crick's avatar

Cymen Crick