About Wakefield Falls
Wakefield Falls was perhaps the most prominent of all the named waterfalls that we were aware of in the vicinity of the great Mt Cook (Aoraki was its Maori name).
Indeed, this waterfall was our waterfalling excuse to talk about New Zealand’s highest mountain as our visit here was centered around being close to this impressive mountain, which was surrounded by both the Hooker and Tasman Glaciers.
The falls tumbled down the mountainside in three prominent drops with a handful more smaller cascades sprinked throughout.
Taken together, Wakefield Falls appeared like a tall and slender mountain cascade, especially when viewed from a distance.
Experiencing Wakefield Falls
While there were some fairly strenuous hikes in the area to see Aoraki in different ways, Julie and I were able to witness Wakefield Falls from right off the road.
We were aware of its presence from studying our Tumonz map prior to making our visit.
It was a good thing we did that because when we got to the falls, there didn’t seem to be signage nor any other indicators pointing out its whereabouts.
So I’d imagine that most casual visitors could easily miss this waterfall.
Perhaps this was why it seemed to be pretty unknown and obscure when we made our visit here in December 2009.
Even though this was essentially a roadside waterfall, we were tempted to get closer to the falls for an up-close and personal experience.
However, our off-trail scrambling only went so far as we ultimately decided against crossing the stream to get even closer to the base of the twisting mountain cascade.
Besides, I was also feeling guilty about tramping on what looked to be fragile bush and grass that may take years to grow back.
Wakefield Falls only revealing parts of itself
Due to the twisting nature of the Wakefield Falls, it was hard to get a complete view.
There was always some part of the falls concealing itself due to cliff or mountain slopes getting in the way.
Generally, the further from the falls we were, the better we could appreciate both its context and its height.
Indeed, this was a nice add-on attraction since it was on the way to the Tasman Glacier (see directions below).
Best Lighting on Wakefield Falls
Having been to Wakefield Falls twice during our December 2009 visit, we must warn that the best time to photograph the falls would be early in the morning.
During that time, we got soft morning backlighting without nearly as many shadows causing problems.
During the late afternoon on our first look at this falls the day before, we looked right into the sun.
That casted some nasty shadows against the bright sun, which filled the surrounding depression in which the falls tumbled through.
Wakefield Falls resides in the Aoraki Mt Cook National Park near Mt Cook Village in the Canterbury 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.
The unsealed Tasman Valley Road turnoff was about 1km south of the Mt Cook Village, which itself was at the official end of the Mt Cook Rd.
We had to drive the dusty but wide Tasman Valley Road for about 6km before Wakefield Falls came into view to our left.
Mt Cook Village was about 56km north of the SH8 and Mt Cook Rd junction between Tekapo and the Mackenzie District. This junction was roughly 272km (nearly 4 hours) west of Christchurch, 264km (over 3.5-4 hours) north of Dunedin, and 207km (about 3 hours) east of Queenstown.
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