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The Catlins Waterfalls

McLean Falls and Purakaunui Falls , Southland Region, South Island, New Zealand


The Catlins (The Catlins Coast) comprises an area on the lower south east coast of the South Island of New Zealand. The area lies between Balclutha and Invercargill, straddling the boundary between the Otago and Southland regions. It includes the South Island's southernmost point, Slope Point. The Catlins has a vast range of scenic attractions, all of which are quite accessible. They include beautiful natural scenery, such as rivers, waterfalls, lakes, caves, forests, beaches and other wonders. Getting there is easy as you can either access the Catlins from Christchurch International Airport, Queenstown International Airport, Dunedin Airport or Invercargill Airport. The Catlins is situated on the Southern Scenic Route and is the main touring route for the Otago and Southland region. The sealed highway allows you to access all the region has to offer by way of a scenic, relaxing drive. Additional tourist drives join the Southern Scenic Route to extend the scenic journey through the Catlins.

McLean Falls is a 22-metre waterfall on the Tautuku River in Catlins Forest Park and it is one of the more beautiful waterfalls in the Catlins Forest. Together with Purakaunui Falls, the McLean Falls is one of the most photographed falls in New Zealand. The walk to the falls passes through a variety of forest and shrub types: divaricating shrubland, huge tree fuchsia, stands of olearia and podocarp forest. You can also find magnificient Lower McLean Falls just below the main McLean Falls. It's hidden in a small and narrow mossy gorge just few meters off the track to the main McLean Falls. The entrance to the McLean Falls River Walk is three kilometres from the Southern Scenic Route on Rewcastle Road. A footbridge crosses the subsidiary, Duckaday Creek, named by the early settler, McLean, who used to bathe in it from time to time. The walk follows an easy grade along the Tautuku River valley with views of the river and bush. Native trees found along the route are labelled. McLean Falls is a favorite travel destination amongst many of the visitors who tour the Catlins on the South Island of New Zealand.

The Purakaunui Falls is a cascading multi-tiered waterfall on the Purakaunui River, located in the Catlins region in Otago in the southern South Island of New Zealand. It is an iconic image for southeastern New Zealand, and were featured on a New Zealand postage stamp in 1976. This 15m waterfall tumbles in three tiers, giving it a certain grace and character that more than makes up for its lack of height.

The Purakaunui Falls is located 17 km to the southwest of the small town of Owaka and five kilometres from the river's outflow into the Pacific Ocean. From the Papatowai Highway take a turn to Warnock Road or Waikoato Valley Road and then to Purakaunui Falls Road to get to the carpark and beginning of the walking track. A 10 minute walk on an well-signposted track brings you to the best known of the Catlins forest waterfalls, located in a small reserve of mixed podocarp and beech forest. The Purakaunui Falls car park has a picnic area with toilets.