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 New Zealand.

The first section of the Charming Creek Walkway takes 45 minutes till Mangatini Falls. This is where the Ngakawau River and Charming Creek meet.

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Interpretation panels at the start of the walk will give an insight in the historic background and the early pioneers’ achievements in this area.

The track is mostly gravel, but if you look closely, you’ll spot pieces of coal here and there. There is water falling from rocks on higher levels along the track, so you can get a bit wet while walking along this trail.

The track follows Charming Creek on your left, and goes through a few dark tunnels. Bring a flash light to find your footing when going through these tunnels.

Just before the swing bridge, there is a path leading to the base of the falls. You can take this path if you want to photograph close-ups of the falls.

Once you cross the swing bridge, Charming Creek will be on your right. Mangatini Falls can be viewed soon after you cross the swing 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 since 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 the bridge in Ngakawau. Follow the signs Charming Creek Walkway till the car park.

Personal notes of the walk and photographing the waterfall

I visited this waterfall on a Christmas Day during summer. There were 3 other groups of people walking the trail, so it was not too busy.

Picture of hikers Mangatini Falls, West Coast, New Zealand

Photo: Hikers at Mangatini Falls, West Coast, New Zealand

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 provided for some good photo opportunities. Please note that since this 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.

I only did the first part of the entire Charming Creek Walkway until the waterfall, but you could go further if you wanted to.

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
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, 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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