Koropuku Falls – Progress Valley, New Zealand - Atlas Obscura

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Koropuku Falls

Progress Valley, New Zealand

The Catlins region has a bounty of breathtaking waterfalls, the best is arguably Koropuku Falls—a majestic waterfall with an enchanting bush walk. 


This small but mighty waterfall is located in the rugged rainforest of the Catlins Conservation Park, deep in the south of New Zealand. It’s off the beaten track adventure and a must-see in the region.

Although Koropuku Falls is marked on local maps, the unofficial Koropuku Falls Walk that brings you to the base is listed only on a select few. And it’s not only the fantastic view of the waterfall that makes this area worth visiting, it’s the walk itself. 

Many walking tracks in New Zealand are constructed and maintained by the Department of Conservation (DOC), and must meet a standard width for consistency. But here, you’ll be walking single file as the winding path meanders intimately through the bush, bringing you up close and personal with the best of NZ native fauna and flora. 

Lush ferns, mosses, lichens and native birdlife are abundant, even the tracks footing is made from pungas (native tree ferns) or nearby rocks from the stream. This magical walk offers a chance to experience being part of the bush, without disrupting the surrounding area. 

The unique track was hand-made by two local men, Wayne and Peter, and is a labor of love spanning over 20 years. There is even a bench dedicated to their wives for the amount of time they’ve spent here. They still maintain the track to ensure safety and enjoyment. 

The Catlins region has a rich Māori history, with abundant fresh seafood and forest food sources being a draw card for the first Polynesians. The remnants of their habitation are still found in the place names. In te reo Māori, Koropuku means lump or swelling.

The good news is you can walk the track any time of the year. It offers a refreshing walk in the cooler months, or a reprieve from the heat in the warmer weather, with a secret beach and swimming area at the base of the waterfall. 

Know Before You Go

The track is a relatively easy walk but it can get slippery in parts, especially after rain, so wear suitable shoes and take care . It is not wheelchair accessible. It can be easy to drive past the sign for the walk so use a GPS. There is a small car park with space for three to four cars.

Like most smaller waterfalls, the density of the drop depends on recent rain activity. Total walking time around 35 - 45 minutes return.

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June 12, 2023

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