Hidden Falls

Fiordland National Park / Hollyford Valley, South Island, New Zealand

About Hidden Falls

Hiking Distance: 10-12km round trip
Suggested Time: 5-6 hours

Date first visited: 2009-12-25
Date last visited: 2009-12-25

Waterfall Latitude: -44.62994
Waterfall Longitude: 168.10706

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Hidden Falls was a waterfall that I really was torn about visiting because I knew that it was pretty far into the Hollyford Track (at least far enough to make me question whether we should do it as a very long day hike), and I wondered whether the waterfall would be worth the trouble. After all, most people who bother to hike on the Hollyford Track tend to overnight at the Hidden Falls Hut and keep going north as part of the multi-day (4 or 5 days) tramp. So as you can see from the photo at the top of this page, I ultimately decided to go ahead and drag Julie along on the long out-and-back hike to see this gushing 20-25m waterfall. Upon visiting the falls, we figured out that it was probably aptly named because it really did seem to be hidden from view of the Hollyford Track.

Still, it took us about 5-6 hours of hiking overall to cover the 10-12km return distance, and I suppose we figured that with the rainy weather, we didn’t have anything to lose by going ahead with this hike since most of the other sights would have been socked in by the low clouds and the heavy rain. The irony was that the time spent alone on this track actually chilled us out and we even managed to wait out the bad weather as it started to clear when we were finishing up with the hike. Funny how Nature works that way sometimes…

Hollyford_Track_112_12242009 - Looking towards the colourful yet crystal clear waters of the Hollyford River along the Hollyford Track
Looking towards the colourful yet crystal clear waters of the Hollyford River along the Hollyford Track

Our visit started by the trailhead for the famed Hollyford Track (see directions below). After donning our rain ponchos and waterproof pants, we then crossed the first swinging bridge and would ultimately walk alongside the east side of the Hollyford River for the next few hours. All throughout the hike, we were treated to lush rainforest, other unnamed waterfalls, and even a few vistas of surrounding peaks here and there. Given the flat yet damp nature of this hike, I swore the experience was almost reminiscent of our Milford Track experience when we were hiking through similar terrain in the Arthur Valley after having seen Sutherland Falls.

After nearly 2 hours and 45 minutes of hiking, we finally arrived at the spur track following Hidden Creek. This spur track was just in front of the swinging bridge traversing Hidden Creek so we didn’t have to cross it. After a few minutes along the spur track, we ultimately got closer to the bombardment of mist from Hidden Falls as its gushing waters would crash into the turbulent plunge pool then funnel its mist out towards us as the confines of the gorge constricted where the mist could go. So as we tried to improve our views of Hidden Falls, we really had to contend with muddy terrain as well as extremely slippery rocks (at least slippery enough for me to take a pretty nasty spill on one occasion).

Once we positioned ourselves to take photos, we had to settle for very hasty photos given the swirling mist conspiring to ruin our cameras. Perhaps with the recent rains, it really swelled up the volume of this waterfall, and I’d imagine it was a case where less would be more as I had seen photos of this falls in the literature in much calmer conditions where its plunge pool would actually show a bold green-blue colour instead of the white frothing mess we saw during our visit on Christmas Day in 2009.

When we had our fill of this waterfall, we hastily made our way back to the car park, which strangely enough took us a little less time (2 hours and 30 minutes) than on the way there. And like I said earlier, the weather had improved significantly so we were even starting to get pretty hot and sweaty from the waterproof pants and rain ponchos as the sun started coming out. At least the one good thing about our constantly moving along in this hike, was that it always seemed like we kept outmaneuvering the sandflies.

Hollyford_Track_005_12242009 - Towards the end of the unsealed Lower Hollyford Road by the Humboldt Falls trailhead where the Hollyford Track was just a few paces further along the road
Hollyford_Track_006_12242009 - Swinging bridge at the start of the Hollyford Track
Hollyford_Track_007_12242009 - Looking over the clear Hollyford River while crossing the swinging bridge
Hollyford_Track_009_12242009 - Julie now on the bush track surrounded by lush ferns attesting to just how rainy it gets here
Hollyford_Track_012_12242009 - Lush part of the Hollyford Track where we walked on boardwalk over the boggiest terrain
Hollyford_Track_016_12242009 - Crossing over one of the footbridges over a tributary containing some small cascades
Hollyford_Track_021_12242009 - Looking upstream along a tributary towards one of the hidden waterfalls to be found along the Hollyford Track
Hollyford_Track_028_12242009 - A loud cascade en route to Hidden Falls
Hollyford_Track_031_12242009 - This part of the Hollyford Track was squeezed between the Hollyford River and a vertical cliff where they put nets there to ensure any falling rocks wouldn't mess up the track
Hollyford_Track_034_12242009 - A particularly tall but hard-to-see cascade en route to the Hidden Falls
Hollyford_Track_037_12242009 - Yet another side cascade en route to Hidden Falls
Hollyford_Track_039_12242009 - Looking back towards the Hollyford River as we were getting close to Hidden Creek
Hollyford_Track_059_12242009 - The narrow and grassy track near the spur for Hidden Falls
Hollyford_Track_052_12242009 - Contextual view of Hidden Falls as we were getting closer to it
Hollyford_Track_007_jx_12242009 - More colourful view of the Hidden Falls
Hollyford_Track_063_12242009 - As we were returning to the trailhead of the Hollyford Track, the scenery started to improve as the weather was improving
Hollyford_Track_088_12242009 - Julie approaching one of the sturdy bridges on the return hike
Hollyford_Track_090_12242009 - Back at the boardwalk as we were going around and over some real swampy areas alongside the Hollyford River
Hollyford_Track_103_12242009 - Finally back at the swinging bridge at the trailhead for the Hollyford Track, marking the end of this nearly 5.5-hour hike


Hidden Falls sat roughly 6km (I think) into the Hollyford Track. The start of the track is located at the end of the Lower Hollyford Road, which is unsealed, but very tame. It was very close to the trailhead for the beautiful Humboldt Falls.

The Lower Hollyford Road leaves the Milford Hwy (SH94) about 89km north of Te Anau along SH94. See the Humboldt Falls page for more specific directions.

As for the geographical context, Te Anau was 173km (over 2 hours drive) southwest of Queenstown and 155km (2 hours drive) north of Invercargill.

Bottom up sweep of the falls from amidst the mud and colorful foliage drenched by the mist coming from the falls

short bottom up sweep of the direct view of the falls within the turbulent winds and mist

Broad left to right sweep of the falls starting from the raging creek leading up to an angled view of the falls

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Tagged with: fiordland, national park, hollyford valley, hollyford track, southland, new zealand, waterfall, te wahipounamu, world heritage, south island, southern alps

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