Barrs Falls

Catlins Coastal Area / Owaka District, South Island, New Zealand

About Barrs Falls

Hiking Distance: 200m round trip
Suggested Time: 10 minutes

Date first visited: 2004-12-02
Date last visited: 2004-12-02

Waterfall Latitude: -46.45128
Waterfall Longitude: 169.60856

Waterfall Safety and Common Sense

Barrs Falls was the last of the Catlins waterfalls that we visited during our honeymoon trip in 2004.

This was a pretty unique-looking waterfall in that its underlying rock made the water ripple with a texture that Julie tended to favour because it had “character.”

Barrs_Falls_005_12012004 - Barrs Falls
Barrs Falls

The falls was pretty diminutive in size (probably only 5-7m or so) and a lot of its constituent parts couldn’t be seen because of overgrowth obscuring them.

So with the small point-and-shoot camera that Julie and I had at the time, there really wasn’t much we could do in terms of trying to capture it in a satisfying way.

In any case, after making a detour from the Southern Scenic Route to get to the signposted trailhead (see directions below), we encountered a sign that said the walk to the falls would take about 10 minutes in each direction.

Imagine our surprise when it was barely two minutes later when we were done descending to the trail’s end right at the base of Barrs Falls.

Barrs_Falls_001_12012004 - Sign at the trailhead for Barrs Falls
Sign at the trailhead for Barrs Falls

It made me wonder whether we did indeed find the right waterfall given the gross overestimate of the walk time.

However, we were pretty sure the photo you see at the top of this page was indeed the correct waterfall.


Barrs Falls resides in the Catlins Coastal Area near Balclutha in the Otago region of South Island, New Zealand. It is administered under the jurisdiction of the Department of Conservation. For information or inquiries about the area as well as current conditions, visit their website.

Barrs_Falls_009_12012004 - Looking up towards the top of the rippling Barrs Falls
Barrs_Falls_006_12012004 - Looking towards some other parts of Barrs Falls though they were obscured by foliage

We’ll begin the driving directions from Purakaunui Falls because that was how we did it when we came to Barrs Falls.

For driving directions on getting to Purakaunui Falls, see that page.

We went east on Purakaunui Falls Road, which ultimately rejoined the Papatowai Hwy (on the Southern Scenic Route) after just under 9km.

We then turned right onto the Papatowai Hwy and proceeded for 5km before turning left onto Barrs Falls Rd.

We followed the unsealed Barrs Falls Rd for a little over 3km (keeping right at the fork with Hanning Rd) where the small pullout and signed trailhead was on the left.

Going in the other direction from Balclutha (60 minutes drive west of Dunedin), we’d drive south on High St (about 1km west of the bridge over the Clutha River).

Then, we’d continue for about 30km towards the town of Owaka.

A little over 1km southwest of Owaka on the Papatowai Hwy was the Barrs Falls Rd on the right.

Then we’d follow that road as directed above to reach the trailhead.

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Tagged with: owaka, balclutha, catlins, southern scenic route, invercargill, dunedin, otago, south island, new zealand, waterfall

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Johnny Cheng

About Johnny Cheng

Johnny Cheng is the founder of the World of Waterfalls and author of the award-winning A Guide to New Zealand Waterfalls. Over the last 2 decades, he has visited thousands of waterfalls in over 40 countries around the world and nearly 40 states in the USA.
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