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.”
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.
It made me wonder whether we did indeed find the right waterfall given the gross overestimate of the walk time, but we were pretty sure the photo you see at the top of this page was indeed the correct waterfall.
Barrs Falls does not seem to be administered by an official authority. However, it is within the Catlins Forest Park. So for information or inquiries about the area as well as current conditions, you might want to try to reach out to the Department of Conservation by visiting their website.
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 west 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), drive south on High St (about 1km west of the bridge over the Clutha River), then 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 follow that road as directed above to reach the trailhead.
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