Emily Falls

Peel Forest Park / Geraldine, South Island, New Zealand

About Emily Falls

Hiking Distance: 3.4km round trip
Suggested Time: 90 minutes

Date first visited: 2009-12-22
Date last visited: 2009-12-22

Waterfall Latitude: -43.89774
Waterfall Longitude: 171.22445

Waterfall Safety and Common Sense

Emily Falls was another of the three main waterfalls that we knew were resident in the Peel Forest.

This particular waterfall required a little bit more work to reach than the nearby Acland Falls, which we had visited earlier in the day.

Emily_Falls_014_12212009 - Emily Falls
Emily Falls

Plus, this waterfall was smaller at somewhere between 5-10m tall.

Yet even though the thought did cross our minds about whether the two-hour return walk to see this waterfall was worth the trouble, as you can see from the photo at the top of this page, it was still picturesque and serene.

In fact, Julie and I almost had the entire trail to ourselves so I reckon that it couldn’t get much more secluded and tranquil than that.

And with such serenity, we were able to start paying attention to some of Nature’s subtleties, which really made this excursion much more than than just the waterfall itself.

Hiking to Emily Falls

Emily_Falls_004_12212009 - Julie leaving the steep unsealed road and goes onto the track for Emily Falls
Julie leaving the steep unsealed road and goes onto the track for Emily Falls

Speaking of the waterfalling experience, Julie and I began the walk from a car park at the bottom of a hill (see directions below).

We had to walk up a pretty steep and unsealed road (which I wondered whether our car would have made it up anyways so I was relieved that we didn’t have to drive it).

At about half-way up this fairly long uphill climb, we then saw the signed trailhead.

At that point, the track continued to climb relentlessly even before finally leveling out.

Emily_Falls_008_12212009 - Julie traversing one of three stream crossings on the way to Emily Falls
Julie traversing one of three stream crossings on the way to Emily Falls

Along the way, we saw a signposted spur for Rata Falls (the third waterfall in the Peel Forest that we knew of), but since it was said to be another 45 minutes away (or 90 minutes round trip), we opted to skip it.

Then, the track descended towards a stream where we did a little bit of some extensive streambed walking in which we crossed the shallow stream three times.

Once we regained the trail away from the streambed, the track continued to climb some more before we finally descended towards Emily Falls itself.

Given such undulations combined with the length of this track, that was when doubts about whether this waterfall was worth the trouble started to creep in.

Emily_Falls_010_12212009 - Julie negotiating more stream crossings on the way to Emily Falls
Julie negotiating more stream crossings on the way to Emily Falls

In any case, the falls was satisfying, and Julie and I even did some additional scrambling onto some rocks in the area to add a little more variety to our viewing experience.

Overall, we spent around 90 minutes to complete the hike, which meant the estimate on the sign at the trailhead was pretty spot on.


Emily Falls resides in the Peel Forest Park Scenic Reserve near Geraldine in the Canterbury 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.

Emily_Falls_001_12212009 - Julie starting the walk for Emily Falls as we passed by a sign warning us of the unsealed road's steep grade
Emily_Falls_003_12212009 - Julie walking along the unsealed road leading up to the trailhead for Emily Falls
Emily_Falls_006_12212009 - After a pretty relentlessly long initial climb, we reached this signposted track junction where the path on our right led to Rata Falls another 45 minutes away, but we kept left to continue to Emily Falls
Emily_Falls_012_12212009 - Our first look at the serene Emily Falls
Emily_Falls_020_12212009 - Another look at the quaint but attractive Emily Falls
Emily_Falls_021_12212009 - Julie scrambled onto some slippery and mossy rocks for this unusual view of Emily Falls
Emily_Falls_023_12212009 - Julie carefully scrambled down from her vantage point as we started to leave Emily Falls

Since we visited Emily Falls from Acland Falls, we’ll pick up the driving directions from there.

See the Acland Falls page for specific directions on how to get there from Christchurch, Timaru, or Tekapo.

From Acland Falls, we drove south on Rangitata Gorge Rd for about 1.6km before turning right onto Blandswood Rd.

This would be the road we would turn left on from Peel Forest Rd had we visited Emily Falls instead of Acland Falls first.

We then followed Blandswood Rd for just under 2km before turning right onto Lookout Rd (don’t cross the river!).

Shortly thereafter, we found the day-use car park to the left side of Lookout Rd.

Even though the road continued beyond this car park, it got real steep and we definitely had doubts about whether our rental passenger car might have even made it up to the top.

Once we parked the car at the bottom of the hill, we had to walk up that steep road towards the official signposted trailhead.

Some of this walking distance was reflected in the hiking distance given near the top of this page.

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Right to left sweep from downstream to the falls itself

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Tagged with: peel forest, tarahaoa, canterbury, south island, christchurch, new zealand, waterfall, geraldine

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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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