Humboldt Falls

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

About Humboldt Falls

Hiking Distance: 1.2km round trip
Suggested Time: 30 minutes

Date first visited: 2004-11-25
Date last visited: 2009-12-24

Waterfall Latitude: -44.69586
Waterfall Longitude: 168.13404

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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.

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).

Humboldt_Falls_016_11242004 - Humboldt Falls
Humboldt Falls

When we returned here five years later in December 2009, it seemed like the falls had gained a little more popularity than before.

Yet 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.

Accessing Humboldt Falls

Our visit began with a well-signed car park almost at the end of the unsealed Lower Hollyford Road (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.

Humboldt_Falls_001_12232009 - On the lush uphill track to the lookout for Humboldt Falls
On the lush uphill track to the lookout for Humboldt Falls

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.


Humboldt Falls resides in Fiordland National Park in the Fiordland region. 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.

Humboldt_Falls_002_11242004 - At the sign by the trailhead for Humboldt Falls
Humboldt_Falls_003_11242004 - The gently uphill bush track for Humboldt Falls was very lush and the track itself was pretty well developed
Humboldt_Falls_009_11242004 - Context of the lookout at Humboldt Falls
Humboldt_Falls_009_12232009 - When we first arrived at the Humboldt Falls overlook, the clouds were still hanging low enough to obscure the uppermost sections of the 275m falls
Humboldt_Falls_035_12232009 - When the clouds finally started to lift, we got this contextual view of Humboldt Falls and its companion
Humboldt_Falls_045_12232009 - Closer look at Humboldt Falls in December 2009
Humboldt_Falls_005_11242004 - Focused look at the impressive Humboldt Falls and a companion waterfall in November 2004
Humboldt_Falls_030_12232009 - Humboldt Falls in December 2009 showing a little bit more of the context just as the clouds had lifted


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.

Bottom up sweep of the falls from end of the sandfly-infested walk

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Tagged with: hollyford, fiordland, te anau, milford, southland, southern alps, south island, new zealand, waterfall

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