Fantail Falls On The South Island

Get info about and see photos of Fantail Falls and the Haast River on the West Coast of the South Island of New Zealand.

What is Fantail Falls?

Fantail Falls is a fan-shaped waterfall that is fed by Fantail Creek tumbling into the Haast River on the West Coast of the South Island of New Zealand.

Fantail Falls played a role in the construction of the Haast Highway.

There used to be a Pelton water wheel at the foot of Fantail Falls that used the impulse of the falling water to generate energy for driving compressors to power road-making machinery.

The concrete foundations of the water wheel can still be found at Fantail Falls.

You can read about the history of the region and the road-making in particular on information panels that you can find just before you reach Fantail Falls.

The walk itself to Fantail Falls is a very short 2 minutes.

Standing stones at Fantail Falls

How To Get To Fantail Falls

To get to Fantail Falls, you can take State Highway 6 from Wanaka in the direction of Lake Hawea, and then onwards to Makarora.

The drive from Wanaka to Makarora is about 64 km (40 mi) long and it should take you approximately 50 minutes to get there.

Continue driving past Makarora for about 20 km (12 mi) more until you see a sign and small carpark for Fantail Falls on the right hand side of the road just before you reach the Gates of Haast Bridge, which is a one-lane bridge.

If you reach the Gates of Haast Bridge without seeing a sign for Fantail Falls, you’ve gone too far. Drive onwards to Thunder Creek Falls and then turn back.

Fantail Falls is located approximately 5 km (3 mi) from the Gates of Haast Bridge, about 6 km (4 mi) from Thunder Creek Falls, and about 84 km (52 mi) from Wanaka.

Surrounding trees at Fantail Falls

Why Visit Fantail Falls?

Fantail Falls is ideal as a short side-trip if you are staying in Wanaka, Queenstown, Cromwell, or if you are driving either to or from the West Coast.

While the waterfall itself is not very impressive, it can be photogenic if there is a lot of water coming down the Fantail Creek.

In any case, it is a very peaceful location to visit that offers soothing sounds produced by the crystal clear running water of the Haast River.

And why not just drop by to say that you built and left a cairn behind just like the many visitors who went before you? And finally, it never hurts to stretch your legs after a long drive…

Fantail Falls is best visited after a period of heavy rainfall.

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