Thunder Creek Falls was one of the more well-known waterfalls in the Haast River Valley section of Mt Aspiring National Park. Julie and I sensed it was popular because both times we made a visit here, there were a handful of cars at the car park despite our early morning arrivals in an area that was pretty wild and remote compared to much of the rest of the South Island of New Zealand. We suspect that a very big reason for its fame was its ease of accessibility as we only had to do a walk of between 5-10 minutes to get to it and back from the well-signed car park. Perhaps another contributor to its notoriety was its satisfyingly tall 28m height as well as the rushing and colourful Haast River running right before it.
To us, this waterfall also helped to break up the driving along the SH6 as we were one of many tourists driving between the Franz or Fox Glaciers and Queenstown. The Gates of Haast at Haast Pass, which was fairly close to this waterfall, was the southernmost road traverse of the Southern Alps, which was essentially the spine of the South Island. This "spine" also separated the very rainy West Coast from the much drier leeward plains of Otago and Canterbury. Thunder Creek Falls was on the side of the pass draining towards the Tasman Sea so both times we made a visit here (November 2004 and December 2009) were under misty, foggy, and/or rainy conditions though that didn't seem to do much to deter the sandflies that conspired to keep us moving and not lingering here for long.
From the Haast Junction (119km south of Fox Glacier along the SH6), Thunder Creek Falls was about 52km further to the south along the SH6. There was a signposted car park at the trailhead making this place pretty easy to find. It was a little over a kilometre west of the Gates of Haast Bridge over the Haast River at the pass.
For context, Fox Glacier was about 23km (30 minutes drive) south of Franz Josef, 196km (2.5 hours drive) south of Greymouth, and 402km (about 5.5km west of Christchurch). Coming from the other direction, Haast Pass was about 2 hours drive (147km) north of Queenstown along SH6.
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Fish River Gorge In 2006, I and my two children (daughter, then 15; son, then 17) had spent 7 weeks Down Under, 1.5 of which were mostly on South Island. I am currently …