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Wainui Falls Walk – the best short walk in Golden Bay


Staff member
Dec 13, 2023
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One of the nicest walks you can do in the Golden Bay area is the Wainui Falls walk. This short 4 km return walk will take you to a beautiful waterfall tucked away in a lush green valley of Abel Tasman National Park. It’s definitely one of the best short walks in New Zealand that I’ve made over the past few years so check it out if you can.

This post first appeared in 2019 and was recently updated after my visit to New Zealand in 2023

Wainui Falls Walk

The Wainui Falls

About the Wainui Falls Walk

Wainui is located all the way at the northwestern end of beautiful Abel Tasman National Park. It takes about 2 hrs to get there from Motueka. Once there the road ends at the end of town. The Wainui Falls Track begins 350 mts away from the main road, a narrow gravel road will take you to the carpark at the start of the walk. Coming from Takaka, look for a sign on your right just after crossing the Wainui River, mentioning the turn-off to the Wainui Falls parking.

The trail is 2 km / 40 minutes one way. Most fast(er) walkers can complete the walk within an hour. The trail is mostly made up of gravel and wide in most places, sometimes with steep drop offs, a few steps and a really nice swing bridge.

Wainui Falls trailhead

Wainui Falls trailhead
Wainui Falls turnoff

The start of the track

On the Wainui Falls Walk

You’ll first follow a track across some farmland and after a short while you’ll get to the turnoff for the track. Soon after there’s a small stream crossing in case it has been raining, but there’s stepping stones that can get you across without getting your feet wet. You’ll follow the Wainui River for a while and in a few places you’ll be able to climb down to the water.

The best part of the walk is actually the swing bridge, located almost at the end of the walk. Note that there is a maximum number of 10 people allowed on the bridge, however it’s not that long so you won’t have to wait very long in case it gets busy. After the swingbridge it’s just a few more steps and you’ll be at the base of the falls, where the trails ends.

The Wainui Falls are 20 meters high and drop down dramatically into a pool below. I have to say that the photos on the internet didn’t do justice to the falls in real life. I actually didn’t want to go because of some pics I saw (the waterfall didn’t look that impressive) but I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised when I got there. After taking a few moments for photos I decided to head back to the carpark.

Wainui Falls Base

Wainui Falls walk
At the Wainui Falls Walk

At the falls
Fern on the Wainui Falls Walk

My favorite New Zealand plant

The Wainui Falls Walk with kids

This is a great walk for families, though there are very steep drop offs at some places so make sure to keep your kids safe. They will absolutely love the swing bridge! Note that the rocks at the viewpoint can be extremely slippery so use caution at all times.

Steep drop offs on the Wainui Falls Walk with kids

Steep drop offs on the Wainui Falls Walk with kids
Wainui Falls swingbridge

The swingbridge

Facilities and good to know

I visited mid November and it was pretty quiet on the track, though I heard it can be busy in the summer. Since the parking lot is quite small, I’d suggest that in case you decide to go during the summer, try to visit early in the morning or later afternoon and avoid peak hours during the middle of the day.

There’s a small café near the parking lot but that was closed during my visit, I think because it was Monday. You’ll also find a vault toilet. The nearest town town of decent size is Takaka, which is about a 25 minute drive from the Wainui Falls Walk.

View over Golden Bay

View over Golden Bay


I hope you enjoyed this post. If you want to read more about hikes in New Zealand, check out the following articles:

Or visit my New Zealand homepage where you’ll find more than 40 articles about active travel and hiking in New Zealand.

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The post Wainui Falls Walk – the best short walk in Golden Bay appeared first on We12Travel.
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