Mangatini Falls

Grey District / Greymouth / Westport, South Island, New Zealand

About Mangatini Falls


Hiking Distance: 6.6km round trip
Suggested Time: 2.5 hours

Date first visited: 2009-12-29
Date last visited: 2009-12-30

Waterfall Latitude: -41.60742
Waterfall Longitude: 171.91457

Mangatini Falls was definitely our favourite waterfall of the ones that we didn’t get to see on our first trip to New Zealand in 2004 but we were able to see on our second go in 2009-2010.

While this 25m waterfall was definitely pleasant to look at with its satisfying rectangular shape and high flow, we remembered this hike most for the Charming Creek Walkway.

Mangatini_Falls_109_12292009 - Mangatini Falls in high flow the day after a torrential rain storm
Mangatini Falls in high flow the day after a torrential rain storm

This track basically had us walking through tunnels while following an old coal mining railway (definitely attesting to the coal mining history of the area).

Practically the whole time, we were meandering amidst the gorge all the while listening to the sound of rushing water on the Ngakawau River throughout the hike.

And for a bit of a thrill factor, there was even a hair-raising swinging bridge crossing over Ngakawau River just before the falls itself.

This hike almost didn’t happen for us because we had originally intended to try the hike to the falls on the day we arrived in Westport.

Mangatini_Falls_140_12292009 - Beautiful weather and reddish flowers blooming on what might be a southern rata tree seen along the Charming Creek Walkway the morning after a torrential rain storm aborted our hike the day before
Beautiful weather and reddish flowers blooming on what might be a southern rata tree seen along the Charming Creek Walkway the morning after a torrential rain storm aborted our hike the day before

Unfortunately, torrential rains had caused floods and we decided not to risk it on this track at the time.

So we waited for the next day, and even though much of the track was muddy, we certainly didn’t regret that decision as the weather improved dramatically (with the resulting improvement in experience).

The Charming Creek Walkway – up to an intermediate waterfall

Our hike began from a signed car park for the Historic Charming Creek Walkway (see directions below).

Following the signs (which predicted it would be an hour walk to get to Mangatini Falls), we promptly walked on the Charming Creek Walkway.

Mangatini_Falls_011_12292009 - Julie walking by some mining relics along the Charming Creek Walkway near its start
Julie walking by some mining relics along the Charming Creek Walkway near its start

Upon starting the walk, we immediately followed old railroad tracks that were undoubtedly utilized during the area’s earlier coal mining days.

That meant the walking track was pretty wide with gentle grade for what turned out to be pretty much the entire walk.

In any case, the scenery early on was of the mouth of the Ngakawau River where there also seemed to be some native flora blooming red during our visit.

However, given the torrential rains from the day before, there were still very muddy stretches during our hike.

Mangatini_Falls_023_12292009 - Large pools of standing water left over from the torrential rains the day before our hike on the Charming Creek Walkway
Large pools of standing water left over from the torrential rains the day before our hike on the Charming Creek Walkway

In one spot after having crossed a bridge and entered an area with some ruins and signage explaining the origins of the once-private railway that we were following, there were still large standing pools on the grass clearing.

After passing by a railway siding (where there was apparently an alternate track that we didn’t take) as well as some old coal mining carts left behind, we then proceeded to walk along the south side of the Ngakawau River.

Along the walk, we went past some rockfall zones (where signs urged us not to stop), tunnels, and bridges over some tributaries.

After nearly an hour of hiking from the start we encountered a surprising side waterfall that Julie mistakenly thought was Mangatini Falls at first.

Mangatini_Falls_081_12292009 - An attractive side waterfall that we had almost mistaken for Mangatini Falls
An attractive side waterfall that we had almost mistaken for Mangatini Falls

This particular waterfall was fairly attractive in its own right, but we would learn later that it had nothing on the real Mangatini Falls.

The view from the bridge crossing its tributary was mostly blocked by rocks and overgrowth.

So I actually did a little bit of a scramble to get a somewhat more fuller view of the cascade, which had split on its way down.

The Charming Creek Walkway – from the intermediate waterfall to Mangatini Falls

Beyond this waterfall, where we spent at least 15 minutes or so just lingering and taking photos, we then encountered a long swinging bridge suspended high above the Ngakawau River Gorge.

Mangatini_Falls_086_12292009 - Continuing to follow the railway tracks, which the Charming Creek Walkway followed en route to the Mangatini Falls
Continuing to follow the railway tracks, which the Charming Creek Walkway followed en route to the Mangatini Falls

I could envision how there could easily be a queue on this bridge as there was only room for people to go in one direction at a time.

Naturally, there was a limit on the number of people that the bridge can support (though I forgot exactly how many).

Fortunately for Julie and I, we were almost completely alone by the time we got to this bridge.

Therefore, we were able to cross without difficulty other than the natural butterflies in our stomachs from being this high off the ground while bouncing on the swinging bridge.

Mangatini_Falls_122_12292009 - Looking back at the swinging bridge over Charming Creek near the lookout for the Mangatini Falls
Looking back at the swinging bridge over Charming Creek near the lookout for the Mangatini Falls

On the other side of the long bridge, we then reached a lookout before another tunnel where we got the frontal look at Mangatini Falls that you see pictured at the top of this page.

Even though we could have kept going on the Charming Creek Walkway through that tunnel, this was our turnaround point.

As for the viewing experience at the falls, we were getting some pretty harsh sidelighting from the morning sun.

While viewing the Mangatini Falls, patchy clouds intermittently obscured its rays, which provided us fleeting opportunities to take pictures before the sun’s rays worked against us.

Mangatini_Falls_098_12292009 - Julie checking out the Mangatini Falls in full flow from the lookout, which was also next to another tunnel
Julie checking out the Mangatini Falls in full flow from the lookout, which was also next to another tunnel

After having our fill of the falls, we had to get back through the swinging bridge again.

That was when we started to encounter at least one group of hikers making it across so we had to be a little patient before we could quickly make our way back to the other side and ultimately back to the trailhead.

In fact, despite such crappy conditions the day before, it seemed like this excursion was very popular.

After all, when we started the hike, we were the only ones parked at the trailhead.

Mangatini_Falls_145_12292009 - Julie returning to the Ngakawau car park, which was suddenly nearly full about 2.5 hours after we were the only ones here when we had gotten started
Julie returning to the Ngakawau car park, which was suddenly nearly full about 2.5 hours after we were the only ones here when we had gotten started

However, when we returned nearly 2.5 hours later, it was completely full!

Authorities

Mangatini Falls resides in the Charming Creek area near Westport in the West Coast 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.

Mangatini_Falls_005_jx_12282009 - The previous afternoon, we made it to the trailhead of the Charming Creek Walkway, but torrential rains at the time made us reconsider and come back the next morning hoping for better weather by then
Mangatini_Falls_002_12292009 - Julie and I were back at the Charming Creek Walkway trailhead the next morning where the rains stopped but the flood puddles were still there
Mangatini_Falls_007_12292009 - Julie on the Charming Creek Walkway surrounded by bush with hints of blooming southern rata trees
Mangatini_Falls_009_12292009 - Julie further along the Charming Creek Walkway with some attractive native bush blooming red above us (from southern rata trees, I believe)
Mangatini_Falls_013_12292009 - Looking at a rushing Ngakawau River as we walked along the Charming Creek Walkway
Mangatini_Falls_025_12292009 - Within the clearing (which was partially flooded during our visit) just after a bridge, we saw some more old mining relics
Mangatini_Falls_038_12292009 - Julie still following along the old railroad tracks of the Charming Creek Walkway
Mangatini_Falls_044_12292009 - Julie passing through one of the railway tunnels along the Charming Creek Walkway
Mangatini_Falls_045_12292009 - Another look at the Ngakawau River while walking along the Charming Creek Walkway
Mangatini_Falls_047_12292009 - Looking into yet another one of the railway tunnels along the Charming Creek Walkway
Mangatini_Falls_051_12292009 - Passing by one of the rockier sections of the Charming Creek Walkway where this little waterfall probably had something to do with a past landslip
Mangatini_Falls_057_12292009 - Context of the Ngakawau River and Julie hiking on the Charming Creek Walkway
Mangatini_Falls_059_12292009 - A part of the railway and Charming Creek Walkway flanked by steep vertical cliffs where I'm sure it could be prone to rockfalls
Mangatini_Falls_064_12292009 - Our first look at an attractive side falls that we had almost mistaken for Mangatini Falls
Mangatini_Falls_089_12292009 - Julie about to cross over a swinging bridge over the Ngakawau River near Mangatini Falls
Mangatini_Falls_123_12292009 - Looking downstream on the Ngakawau River while standing in the middle of the long swinging bridge
Mangatini_Falls_132_12292009 - Looking upstream towards Mangatini Falls from the middle of the long swinging bridge
Mangatini_Falls_101_12292009 - Finally making it to the lookout opposite the Ngakawau River from the Mangatini Falls
Mangatini_Falls_120_12292009 - Another look at Mangatini Falls and an intriguing tree in the foreground
Mangatini_Falls_137_12292009 - On the return hike going beneath a weeping wall before a shelter at a bend in the railway tracks of the Charming Creek Walkway
Mangatini_Falls_139_12292009 - Julie on the return hike passing through one of the handful of tunnels that we traversed along the Charming Creek Walkway

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We reached the Ngakawau car park for the Charming Creek Walkway and the shortest access to Mangatini Falls from the town of Westport. So we’ll begin the driving directions from there.

From the SH67/SH6 junction in Westport (91km north of Greymouth), we drove north on SH67 for about 39km towards the town of Hector (or Ngakawau).

Mangatini_Falls_008_jx_12282009 - The Ngakawau car park, which provided the shortest access to the Mangatini Falls, was right next to this unsealed road junction. The Charming Creek Walkway began to the left of this junction
The Ngakawau car park, which provided the shortest access to the Mangatini Falls, was right next to this unsealed road junction. The Charming Creek Walkway began to the left of this junction

Just before getting to the bridge over the Ngakawau River, we turned right onto Tyler Rd (noting that this road was also signposted for the Historic Charming Creek Walkway).

Then, we followed Tyler Rd to the car park just beyond some old railroad tracks where the road seemed to be really beat up.

For additional context, Greymouth was about 244km (3.5 hours drive) northwest of Christchurch via Arthur’s Pass.

Short bottom up sweep of the falls in pretty full flow


Bottom up sweep of a side cascade that we almost had mistaken for the real Mangatini Falls. Glad we kept going...

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Tagged with: grey, greymouth, westport, karamea, west coast, charming creek, hector, south island, new zealand, waterfall, buller



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