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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Bowen Falls, New Zealand

Bowen Falls in May 2011

Milford Sound is one of my favorite places on the planet. There’s something wildly spectacular about seeing peaks rise 1 mile from the sea level. And the waterfalls that you’ll see are equally as spectacular.

Two of the falls in the sound are considered to be year-round, Stirling Falls and Bowen Falls (sometimes called Lady Bowen Falls). At 530′, Bowen Falls is breathtaking. You can get hints of the falls by exploring the trails west of the parking area, but your best views are by boat! It’s definitely worth every cent you spend. You will pass by Bowen Falls on your way out, and you’ll get an even better view coming back to the dock. During the cruise, you’ll likely see dolphins and seals. The sun may appear and disappear consistently throughout the two hours on the cruise. This can lead to a number of different photographic opportunities. (And you will want to dress warmly. In early May, it was chilly at times.)

From what I understand, there used to be a trail that led directly the base of the falls, but it has been closed for some time due to rock slides.

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: 528′
Length of Hike: not applicable

Where in the World in Bowen Falls?

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?

Palisade Falls, New Zealand

Palisade Falls in May 2011

I have to admit, Milford Sound is probably one of my favorite places on the planet. The combination of the amazing peaks thousands of feet above sea level and the multitude of waterfalls, not to mention the wildlife, all make for a really wonderful experience. I’m not really sure that I wanted it to end, though it was just a teensy bit chilly.

The two hour (or so) cruise around Milford Sound is definitely worth it. We saw dolphins and seals, went under waterfalls (Stirling Falls), and had a jolly good time. Palisade Falls is one of those waterfalls that is hard to miss, though nobody on the cruise specifically mentions it, as far as I can remember. It might be on the guided sheet.  One website seems to indicate a height of at least 180′ (55 m), though it also suggests another 25 m portion, for a total of 260′. I guess that seems like an appropriate height. It seemed pretty tall, to say the least. And while many of the waterfalls disappear quickly after the rain, this seems to be one of the more constant waterfalls in the Sound.

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: 262′
Length of Hike: not applicable

Another view of Palisade Falls, making it seem even taller than 260′ (80 m)

Where in the World in Palisade 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?