Thunder Creek Falls

Mt Aspiring / Haast Pass, South Island, New Zealand

About Thunder Creek Falls

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

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

Waterfall Latitude: -44.03813
Waterfall Longitude: 169.36512

Waterfall Safety and Common Sense

Thunder Creek Falls was one of the more well-known waterfalls in the Haast River Valley section of Mt Aspiring National Park.

Julie and I sensed it was popular because both times we made a visit here, there were a handful of cars at the car park despite our early morning arrivals in an area that was pretty wild and remote compared to much of the rest of the South Island of New Zealand.

Thunder_Creek_Falls_010_12262009 - Thunder Creek Falls fronted by the Haast River
Thunder Creek Falls fronted by the Haast River

We suspect that a very big reason for its fame was its ease of accessibility as we only had to do a walk of between 5-10 minutes to get to it and back.

Perhaps another contributor to its notoriety was its satisfyingly tall 28m height as well as the rushing and colourful Haast River running right before it.

To us, this waterfall also helped to break up the driving along the SH6 as we were one of many tourists driving between the Franz or Fox Glaciers and Queenstown.

The Gates of Haast at Haast Pass, which was fairly close to this waterfall, was the southernmost road traverse of the Southern Alps, which was essentially the spine of the South Island.

Mt_Aspiring_NP_032_11232004 - The Gates of Haast Bridge over the Haast River just 1.2km from the Thunder Creek Falls
The Gates of Haast Bridge over the Haast River just 1.2km from the Thunder Creek Falls

This “spine” also separated the very rainy West Coast from the much drier leeward plains of Otago and Canterbury.

Thunder Creek Falls was on the side of the pass draining towards the Tasman Sea so both times we made a visit here (November 2004 and December 2009) were under misty, foggy, and/or rainy conditions.

Despite the wet conditions, that didn’t seem to do much to deter the sandflies that conspired to keep us moving and not lingering here for long.


Thunder Creek 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.

Thunder_Creek_Falls_025_12262009 - Julie checking out Thunder Creek Falls from the banks of the Haast River in December 2009
Mt_Aspiring_NP_022_11232004 - Our first look at Thunder Creek Falls in November 2004
Mt_Aspiring_NP_024_11232004 - Thunder Creek Falls showing more of the colour in the Haast River running before it as seen during our first visit back in November 2004
Mt_Aspiring_NP_029_11232004 - Another look across the colourful Haast River as seen on our November 2004 visit of the Thunder Creek Falls
Mt_Aspiring_NP_034_11232004 - A roadside waterfall next to SH6 seen somewhere between Thunder Creek Falls and Fantail Falls in November 2004
Hwy_6_027_11232004 - Driving on SH6 along the shores of I believe Lake Wakatipu as we were getting closer to Queenstown

From the Haast Junction (119km south of Fox Glacier along the SH6), Thunder Creek Falls was about 52km further to the south along the SH6.

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

It was a little over a kilometre west 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.

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Bottom up sweep from the fast moving creek towards the top 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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Fish River Gorge January 3, 2015 11:00 pm by John Eyberg - In 2006, I and my two children (daughter, then 15; son, then 17) had spent 7 weeks Down Under, 1.5 of which were mostly on South Island. I am currently completing my 5th book "La Familia Hayburg: Down Under" and constantly compare my notes from then to other accounts of the area. One thing I've… ...Read More

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