Fairy Falls, New Zealand

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Fairy Falls in May 2011

It ends up that there are two Fairy Falls in New Zealand: Fairy Falls on the North Island outside of Auckland, and a Fairy Falls on the South Island in Milford Sound. This is about the South Island version of Fairy Falls.

Milford Sound is one of my favorite places on the planet. There’s a stunning beauty to the location. And for a waterfall lover, there are no lack of waterfalls in the sound. Bridal Veil Falls is right next to Fairy Falls, and then you can find Bowen FallsStirling FallsPalisade Falls, and other Milford Sound Waterfalls in the sound itself. The best way to view all of the falls is to take a cruise (or kayak if that sounds exciting). I took a cruise later in the day, and it was perfect. In addition to waterfalls, I saw a significant amount of marine wildlife, including seals and dolphins/porpoises. It was definitely a wonderful visit, and I’m ready to go back again!

Directions:

  1. From Te Anau, head north on NZ-94 to its very end at Milford Sound. (From mid-May to October, you may want to check to make sure that the road is open to Milford Sound…It can close randomly, or snow chains may also be required.)
  2. At Milford Sound, park, head to the cruise area and board your cruise.

Accessibility: 10/10 (easy)
Height: 100′
Length of Hike: not applicable

Where in the World is Fairy Falls?

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Milford Sound Highway Waterfalls, New Zealand

A rather large waterfall along the Milford Sound Highway (May 2011)

I was trying to decide whether to write about these waterfalls, and I’ve decided that I will, if for no other reason to advertise the amazing place that is Milford Sound. Milford Sound has a number of amazing waterfalls including Bowen Falls and Stirling Falls. It is also widely advertised that after the rains, hundreds of other ephemeral waterfalls pop up.

As you’re driving to Milford Sound along the Milford Sound Highway, you’ll likely see a number of other waterfalls, and these are two that I saw. I can’t say whether they were ephemeral. One of them seems to be rather larger than I would expect for an ephemeral waterfall, and it wasn’t really pouring that day. There were light sprinkles, a few flurries, and some bouts of mild but constant rain. Otherwise, the rain from a single day probably couldn’t explain the volume of these falls. (I could be wrong, though.)

I think I was able to view both of these falls from across the road while visiting The Chasm. The first waterfall was difficult to photograph from afar. The second was large enough that I was able to capture the falls with a zoom lens. I’m not sure of the height of the falls, but if these falls were more easily accessible, they would probably be very popular. (It’s not the park that causes the inaccessibility, it’s the steep cliffs!)

Directions: This one is pretty simple. Drive from Te Anau along NZ-94 to Milford Sound. I believe these were viewed from the trail and parking area for The Chasm. This is before you enter into the cruise parking area.

Accessibility: 10/10 (easy)
Height: Hundreds of Feet
Length of Hike: not applicable

A harder-to-view (and photograph) waterfall along the Milford Sound Highway

Where in the World are the Milford Sound Highway Waterfalls?

Milford Sound Waterfalls, New Zealand

One of the waterfalls in Milford Sound (May 2011)

Up until this point, I haven’t listed these waterfalls on any list, and I’m not sure why. When you visit Milford Sound, which you should do sometime in your life, you should take a 2 hour cruise through the sound. You’ll see wildlife, stunning views, and a significant number of waterfalls. Many of them show up only after it rains, while others are more consistent. You can check out the ones that have been clearly named, such as Bowen, Bridal Veil, Fairy, Palisade, and Stirling Falls. And yet, there are a number of other waterfalls that seem to last longer that haven’t been named, or if they have been named, there names haven’t been advertised very well.

So I’ve decided to include them, since they are in such a beautiful place, and are equally as scenic as some of the named falls. There’s not a whole lot of description required. I’m a really bad judge of height, but each of these is in the hundreds of feet tall! If you take the cruise, you’ll see eight or nine falls during sunny periods, and I’ve heard it increases even more so while raining. It’s a reason to take a cruise while raining!

Directions:

  1. From Te Anau, head north on NZ-94 to its very end at Milford Sound.  (From mid-May to October, you may want to check to make sure that the road is open to Milford Sound…It can close randomly, or snow chains may also be required.)
  2. At Milford Sound, park, head to the cruise area and board your cruise.

Accessibility: 10/10 (easy)
Height: ~100-200′
Length of Hike: not applicable

Another ephemeral waterfall

Another one!

Where in the World are the Waterfalls of Milford Sound?

Bridal Veil Falls, New Zealand

Bridal Veil Falls in May 2011

There are two different Bridal Veil Falls in New Zealand (possibly more, since it’s a popular name for a waterfall). This is the one found on the South Island in Milford Sound. If you want to know more about Milford Sound, check out my post on Stirling Falls.

Even on a relatively dry, sunny day, you’ll see a number of pretty impressive waterfalls. Stirling Falls is one of the waterfalls that you will likely go under (intentionally) if you take the Milford Sound Cruise. On the other hand, Bridal Veil Falls is obvious, and yet tucked away enough that you’ll just be viewing it from afar. Milford Sound is absolutely amazing, and the falls, including Bridal Veil Falls, are no exception. Be aware, though, while you’re travelling relatively slow, you have to be ready to capture Bridal Veil Falls. Since you’re on a boat, the amount of time available is more limited. Renting a kayak might solve that problem?

Directions:

  1. From Te Anau, head north on NZ-94 to its very end at Milford Sound. (From mid-May to October, you may want to check to make sure that the road is open to Milford Sound…It can close randomly, or snow chains may also be required.)
  2. At Milford Sound, park, head to the cruise area and board your cruise.

Accessibility: 10/10 (easy)
Height: ~75′
Length of Hike: not applicable

Where in the World is Bridal Veil Falls?

Stirling Falls, New Zealand

Stirling Falls in May 2011

I haven’t yet posted anything about my visit to Milford Sound, and since Stirling Falls is the first waterfall I’m going to discuss in the area, I’m going to include my other impressions as well.

I was so excited to visit Milford Sound, and I was not disappointed.  The two-hour cruise in the sound (well, fjord, actually) was very impressive and there were a number of impressive waterfalls.  As they’ll inform you, there are many more after the rains come (and that’s pretty frequently), but even during the partly cloudy periods, you’ll still see many.

You can see many of the falls at once, and Stirling Falls is likely to be one of the last that you visit on your cruise.  It’s a really great waterfall, and you’re almost guaranteed to get a very close look.  And by close, I mean close.  Our boat navigated so that a portion of it was under the falls.  It was just cool enough outside that I didn’t readily rush into nature’s cold shower, but it was still memorable!

Directions:

  1. From Te Anau, head north on NZ-94 to its very end at Milford Sound.  (From mid-May to October, you may want to check to make sure that the road is open to Milford Sound…It can close randomly, or snow chains may also be required.)
  2. At Milford Sound, park, head to the cruise area and board your cruise.

Accessibility: 10/10 (easy)
Height: 510′
Length of Hike: not applicable

Where in the World in Stirling Falls?