Humboldt Falls was one of the more dramatic waterfalls that we experienced in New Zealand. It was hard to believe that this waterfall seemed to be one of the better kept secrets in Fiordland National Park during our first trip here in November 2004, and I’d imagine a lot of this had to do with the majority of the traffic going towards the world famous Milford Sound (bypassing Hollyford Valley in the process). When we returned here five years later in December 2009, it seemed like the falls gained a little more popularity than before but it was still a relatively quiet and lesser known attraction reserved for only those with their own transport willing and able to make it deep into the Hollyford Valley for a look.
Our visit began with a well-signed car park almost at the end of the unsealed Lower Hollyford Rd (see directions below). We then followed the sign where it predicted that the walk would take us about 30 minutes return. The walk was on a pretty developed gravel path going gently uphill through a very lush native rainforest where seemingly everything had moss growing on it (attesting to the high rainfall in the area). At the end of the track, we encountered a lookout area with a somewhat distant view of Humboldt Falls as well as a barely-visible companion waterfall a little over half the size of its 275m neighbour.
There was also a bench here to sit and chill out while enjoying the view, but I’m willing to bet that how long one would sit around and allow sandflies to take pot shots at a sitting target wouldn’t be for that long. At least that was the case for both Julie and I as we knew the key to minimizing itchy sandfly bites was to keep moving. Of course, that was kind of hard to do when we had to behold the glorious view of the very tall waterfalls in an otherwise very pristine part of New Zealand.
When we timed our return visit in December 2009, we recorded a round trip time of about 50 minutes, but we really took our time on that second go around (while also bothering with rain gear since it was raining at the time). I recalled on my first visit in November 2004, I thought the sign’s prediction was pretty accurate. And even on that first visit, I recalled contending with rain as well.
The nearest town of any appreciable size to Fiordland National Park was Te Anau so we’ll describe the driving directions from there. Te Anau was about 171km (2 hours drive) southwest of Queenstown and 153km (2 hours drive) north of Invercargill. Christchurch is about 484km (6 hours drive) from Queenstown and 566km (7 hours drive) from Invercargill.
Heading north from Te Anau along the SH94 (Milford Highway), we drove for about 85km. This drive passed through the Eglington Flat (along the Eglington River) then passed by Lake Gunn and Lake Fergus before rising up through a mountainous part of road before descending towards the junction with the Lower Hollyford Rd at a sharp right turn.
Making that sharp right to get onto the Lower Hollyford Rd, we then drove about 16km on the unsealed road. Even though the road wasn’t sealed, it was surprisingly smooth so driving this distance didn’t take very long. The entire drive from Te Anau took us just under 90 minutes.
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