The Catlins landscape south of Dunedin is unlike anywhere else in New Zealand. Waves carve at a forested coastline and waterfalls spill through the trees—the most spectacular of which is McLean Falls, a two-tiered, bridal-veiled beauty. As part of the Catlins Conservation Park, McLean Falls is hidden down a scenic, tree-lined trail, and broken up into two sets of falls that tower over 70 feet (21 meters) while crashing on moss-covered rocks. This part of New Zealand is sparsely populated, and you truly feel a connection to nature when hiking the trail to the falls, where ferns and trees in every shade of green form a colorful canopy around you. Since the area is so remote, however, one of the best ways to experience the falls is on a private tour of the Catlins, where a local guide helps plan an exceptional day trip from Dunedin.
Insider's Tip: McLean Falls is the second waterfall you encounter along the trail, so don’t turn around at the first waterfall and walk away underwhelmed.
McLean Falls is a round trip hike that takes approximately 40 minutes to complete. The access road to the parking lot is unpaved and bumpy, though still accessible by 2WD cars. The nearest town is Papatowai, approximately nine miles (14.5 kilometers) east, or about a 20 minute drive. Dunedin is about a two-hour drive from the falls and Invercargill is about a 75-minute drive.