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.

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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.

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.

Close-up of hikers at Mangatini Falls on the South Island

Close-up of hikers at Mangatini Falls on the South Island

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. See the driving route from Westport on Google Maps.

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.

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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)
Difficulty: Easy
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.
Fitness level: Moderate
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 following map shows the location of the parking lot and the location of Mangatini Falls. The trail you’ll have to follow to reach Mangatini Falls is shown as a red line.

Use the plus and minus buttons to zoom in and out of the map and to see more or less detail on the map. Click the Satellite button to see more of the actual trail itself and surrounding shrubs.

Figure 1. Map of Charming Creek and the Ngakawau Gorge, West Coast, New Zealand.

 

Note: Walking tracks and trails can be changed or get closed. The information presented here was accurate when it was gathered.

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