Discovering McLean Falls: A Hidden Gem in the Catlins

McLean Falls

blog authorBy Johanna Hansen shield verification Verified Expert

    Nestled in the serene Catlins coastal area of Otago, New Zealand, McLean Falls stands as a testament to nature's artistry. This hidden gem, accessible through a delightful walk, offers a tranquil escape into the heart of nature. As a traveler, exploring McLean Falls is not just about witnessing the waterfall but also about embracing the journey through diverse forests and shrubs.

    What is McLean Falls?

    McLean Falls is more than just a cascade; it's a symphony of nature's elements, harmoniously intertwined. The falls, part of the Catlins Forest Park, tumble over several terraces, creating a mesmerizing spectacle. The sound of water, the lush greenery, and the peaceful ambiance make McLean Falls a must-visit for nature enthusiasts.

    McLean Falls in New Zealand

    Where is McLean Falls located?

    Situated in the Catlins area, a region known for its rugged beauty and wildlife, McLean Falls is a jewel in Otago's crown. The falls are easily accessible from the main road, with clear signage leading the way. This location makes it an ideal stop for travelers exploring the southern part of New Zealand's South Island.

    How tall is McLean Falls?

    The majesty of McLean Falls is evident in its height, with the water cascading down from a significant elevation. It first plunges into a 22-meter deep pool. From there, it cascades down several more meters across a series of stepped terraces.

    McLean Waterfall

    What is the best time to visit McLean Falls?

    Visiting McLean Falls is a year-round delight, but each season offers a unique experience. The summer months bring vibrant greenery and comfortable weather, ideal for hiking and photography. Spring and autumn offer a more tranquil experience, with fewer visitors and a chance to see the falls amidst seasonal changes.

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    Hike to McLean Falls

    The hike to McLean Falls is an adventure in itself, offering a glimpse into New Zealand's diverse flora and fauna. The trail, approximately 2.1 km return, is classified as an easy walk, making it accessible for most fitness levels. The 40-minute return journey takes you through a variety of forest types, each with its own charm.

    Additional Insights

    • Wildlife Watching: Keep an eye out for native birds and wildlife along the trail.
    • Photography Opportunities: The falls and the surrounding landscape offer excellent photo opportunities.
    • Safety First: Always check weather conditions and trail updates before embarking on your hike.

    McLean Waterfall in New Zealand


    McLean Falls is not just a destination; it's an experience that encapsulates the essence of New Zealand's natural beauty. Whether you're a solo traveler, a family, or a group of friends, a visit to McLean Falls promises a memorable adventure. 

    So, pack your bags, lace up your hiking boots, and get ready to discover one of Otago's most splendid natural attractions.

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