Hidden Falls was a waterfall that I really was torn about visiting because I knew that it was pretty far into the Hollyford Track (at least far enough to make me question whether we should do it as a very long day hike), and I wondered whether the waterfall would be worth the trouble. After all, most people who bother to hike on the Hollyford Track tend to overnight at the Hidden Falls Hut and keep going north as part of the multi-day (4 or 5 days) tramp. So as you can see from the photo at the top of this page, I ultimately decided to go ahead and drag Julie along on the long out-and-back hike to see this gushing 20-25m waterfall. Upon visiting the falls, we figured out that it was probably aptly named because it really did seem to be hidden from view of the Hollyford Track.
Still, it took us about 5-6 hours of hiking overall to cover the 10-12km return distance, and I suppose we figured that with the rainy weather, we didn't have anything to lose by going ahead with this hike since most of the other sights would have been socked in by the low clouds and the heavy rain. The irony was that the time spent alone on this track actually chilled us out and we even managed to wait out the bad weather as it started to clear when we were finishing up with the hike. Funny how Nature works that way sometimes...
Our visit started by the trailhead for the famed Hollyford Track (see directions below). After donning our rain ponchos and waterproof pants, we then crossed the first swinging bridge and would ultimately walk alongside the east side of the Hollyford River for the next few hours. All throughout the hike, we were treated to lush rainforest, other unnamed waterfalls, and even a few vistas of surrounding peaks here and there. Given the flat yet damp nature of this hike, I swore the experience was almost reminiscent of our Milford Track experience when we were hiking through similar terrain in the Arthur Valley after having seen Sutherland Falls.
After nearly 2 hours and 45 minutes of hiking, we finally arrived at the spur track following Hidden Creek. This spur track was just in front of the swinging bridge traversing Hidden Creek so we didn't have to cross it. After a few minutes along the spur track, we ultimately got closer to the bombardment of mist from Hidden Falls as its gushing waters would crash into the turbulent plunge pool then funnel its mist out towards us as the confines of the gorge constricted where the mist could go. So as we tried to improve our views of Hidden Falls, we really had to contend with muddy terrain as well as extremely slippery rocks (at least slippery enough for me to take a pretty nasty spill on one occasion).
Once we positioned ourselves to take photos, we had to settle for very hasty photos given the swirling mist conspiring to ruin our cameras. Perhaps with the recent rains, it really swelled up the volume of this waterfall, and I'd imagine it was a case where less would be more as I had seen photos of this falls in the literature in much calmer conditions where its plunge pool would actually show a bold green-blue colour instead of the white frothing mess we saw during our visit on Christmas Day in 2009.
When we had our fill of this waterfall, we hastily made our way back to the car park, which strangely enough took us a little less time (2 hours and 30 minutes) than on the way there. And like I said earlier, the weather had improved significantly so we were even starting to get pretty hot and sweaty from the waterproof pants and rain ponchos as the sun started coming out. At least the one good thing about our constantly moving along in this hike, was that it always seemed like we kept outmaneuvering the sandflies.
Hidden Falls sat roughly 6km (I think) into the Hollyford Track. The start of the track is located at the end of the Lower Hollyford Road, which is unsealed, but very tame. It was very close to the trailhead for the beautiful Humboldt Falls.
The Lower Hollyford Road leaves the Milford Hwy (SH94) about 89km north of Te Anau along SH94. See the Humboldt Falls page for more specific directions.
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