West Coast waterfall: Mangatini Falls
Learn how to get to and what to expect from the walk to Mangatini Falls on the Charming Creek Walkway on the West Coast of the South Island of NZ.
Mangatini Falls is part of the Charming Creek Walkway, which lies between Ngakawau in the south and Seddonville in the north on the South Island of New Zealand.
Ngakawau lies about 32 km (20 mi) northeast of Westport, and Seddonville lies about 47 km (29 mi) northeast of Westport.
So there are two entrances to the walkway and therefore also two ways to get to the waterfall.
The walk described here covers the southern section of the Charming Creek Walkway so goes from the Ngakawau entrance of the Charming Creek Walkway to Mangatini Falls and back.
This section of the Charming Creek Walkway till Mangatini Falls takes about 45 minutes to walk and is shorter than the northern section.
Mangatini Falls lies on a junction where the Ngakawau River and Charming Creek meet.
Mangatini Falls on the West Coast of the South Island
Interpretation panels at the start of the walk will give insight into the historic background and the achievements of early pioneers in this area.
The track is mostly gravel, but if you look closely, you’ll spot pieces of coal here and there.
Water may fall from rocks on higher levels along the track, so you can get a bit wet while walking along this trail.
During periods of heavy rain, rock may fall onto the trail, so it is best to check the Charming Creek Walkway page on the website of the Department of Conservation for any alerts or possible track closures before you head out.
The track follows Charming Creek on your left and goes through a few dark tunnels. Carry a flashlight to find your footing when going through these tunnels.
Just before you reach the suspension bridge, there is a path leading to the base of the falls.
You can follow this path if you want to photograph the waterfall from up close.
Once you cross the suspension bridge, Charming Creek will be on your right.
Mangatini Falls can be viewed soon after you cross the suspension bridge and a viewing platform – the balcony – opposite to the falls is just a few minutes away.
At the viewing platform, water can fall on you because you’ll be standing under a ledge, so it is good to carry an umbrella to protect your photo gear if you want to photograph the falls.
How to get to Mangatini Falls
Travel north from Westport along State Highway 67 and turn right before you reach the bridge in Ngakawau.
Follow the signs for Charming Creek Walkway until you reach the parking lot for the walk.
Close-up of hikers at Mangatini Falls on the South Island
Note that the parking lot is pretty isolated and not in view from the main road (SH 67), which makes it a good location for burglary to take place.
So lock up your car and do not leave anything valuable in it.
My biggest concern was leaving my car behind when I did this walk because the place did not feel safe to me, and I generally have a sixth sense for such things.
Personal notes on the walk and photographing the waterfall
I visited this waterfall on a Christmas Day during summer in New Zealand. There were three other groups of people walking the trail, so it was not too busy.
The thing I enjoyed most while walking this trail was the soothing sounds of the water falling down the rocky walls along the trail and of the water flowing along the creek.
While Charming Creek is called a creek, the amount of water flowing through it is enormous.
The water flow off the falls was not excessive, which allowed for some good photo opportunities.
Please note that because Mangatini Falls is a huge waterfall, it is best photographed on a day that has good light, otherwise you won’t be able to use long exposures to smooth out the water without overexposing it.
Basic information for the Mangatini Falls walk
|Trail length:||3.3 km (2 mi) one-way to the waterfall|
|Walking time:||45 minutes to 1 hour (one-way)|
|Trail type:||Well-formed track|
|Trail condition:||Good, but it can get wet and muddy in places. Water also tends to fall down from the gorge walls.|
|Best time to walk:||10 a.m. – 2 p.m.|
|What you’ll see:||Bush, river, gorge, coal mine remnants, tunnels, suspension bridge, and waterfall|
The trail you’ll have to follow approximately to reach Mangatini Falls is indicated with a red dashed line on this topographic map of the Charming Creek Walkway (183 KB) [This work is based on/includes LINZ’s data which is licensed by Land Information New Zealand (LINZ) for re-use under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license].
The other side of the Charming Creek Walkway is not indicated on this map but can be retrieved by downloading the original map (Topo 50 Map BR21) from the LINZ website.
This article falls under Day Walks.
Note: Walking tracks and trails can be changed or get closed. The information presented here was accurate when it was gathered.