Fantail Falls

Mt Aspiring / Haast Pass, South Island, New Zealand

About Fantail Falls

Hiking Distance: 400m round trip
Suggested Time: 5 minutes

Date first visited: 2004-11-24
Date last visited: 2009-12-27

Waterfall Latitude: -44.07811
Waterfall Longitude: 169.38641

Waterfall Safety and Common Sense

Fantail Falls was the second of two pretty well-known waterfalls we encountered in the vicinity of Haast Pass.

We were motoring through Mt Aspiring National Park between Queenstown and Glacier Country (i.e. Fox Glacier and Franz Josef Glacier) so such waterfall breaks provided a chance to stretch and exercise.

Mt_Aspiring_NP_046_11232004 - Fantail Falls
Fantail Falls

Thunder Creek Falls was the other of the famous ones in the area, but unlike that one, Fantail had a more bulbous appearance that someone must have imagined a fantail thereby prompting its name.

Julie and I only had to do a very short two-minute walk from the car park to the banks of the Haast River where we could see this shapely waterfall.

Perhaps the only thing keeping us from lingering here longer and enjoying the falls more thoroughly were the annoying sandflies that seemed to keep swarming around us unless we kept moving.

The DEET that we had on didn’t seem to faze these sandflies very much.

Fantail_Falls_027_12262009 - Fantail Falls
Fantail Falls

So that was why not staying put in any spot for any sustained period of time was the key to minimizing the likelihood of getting those really itchy reactions from their bites.

Anyways, I’d imagine Fantail Falls was also well-known because it was well-signed and there always seemed to be a handful of cars and tourists seeing the falls at any given moment.

This was despite the relatively remote and undeveloped nature of this part of the South Island.


Fantail Falls resides in Mt Aspiring National Park near Haast 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.

Fantail_Falls_001_jx_12262009 - Sign for Fantail Falls during our late December 2009 visit
Fantail_Falls_009_12262009 - Looking downstream along the Haast River just as we passed through the bush separating the car park from the river during our December 2009 visit
Fantail_Falls_007_12262009 - Julie standing in front of Fantail Falls seen in December 2009
Fantail_Falls_019_12262009 - Contextual look across the Haast River towards Fantail Falls during our visit in late December 2009
Fantail_Falls_023_12262009 - Another look at Fantail Falls as we explored the rocky area around the Haast River in late December 2009
Fantail_Falls_026_12262009 - Fully contextual look at the Fantail Falls during our visit in late December 2009
Mt_Aspiring_NP_037_11232004 - A roadside waterfall nearby the pullout for Fantail Falls
Mt_Aspiring_NP_038_11232004 - Approaching the clearing where we could see Fantail Falls during our November 2004 visit
Mt_Aspiring_NP_040_11232004 - Looking across the Haast River at Fantail Falls during our visit late November 2004
Queenstown_021_11242004 - Heading south of Haast Pass on our November 2004 visit, we entered the lakes region passing through Wanaka then ultimately making our way around Lake Wakatipu towards Queenstown

From the Haast Junction (119km south of Fox Glacier along the SH6), Fantail Falls was about 58km south along the SH6 (or 6km south of Thunder Creek Falls).

There was a signposted car park at the trailhead making this place pretty easy to find.

It was a little under 5km south 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.

Find A Place To Stay

Bottom up sweep from across the creek of the falls

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Tagged with: haast, aspiring, otago, west coast, south island, new zealand, waterfall, queenstown, wanaka, southern alps

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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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