Whisky Falls

Image: Shellie Evans | ©


Walk to these 40 m falls surrounded by thick walls of moss and ferns.

Track overview

10.8 km return return via same track

Walking and tramping

5 hr return Easy: Walking track

Dog access

No dogs

About this track


Walk part of Lakeside Track to Whisky Falls.

The track passes through forests of mānuka and kānuka, and then beech, crossing several shingle fans before reaching the falls.

Almost 40 metres high, the falls provide a damp atmosphere for the thick walls of moss and ferns.

Return the same way.

Getting there

From St Arnaud, follow SH 63 west for 2 km, then turn into Mount Robert Road. Follow this for 2.8 km to the start of Lakeside Track.

St Arnaud is 88 km from Nelson on SH6, 129 km from Picton on SH63, 157 km from Wesport on SH6 and SH63, and 350 km from Christchurh on SH65 and SH6.

Nature and conservation

During the time when the Travers Glacier occupied the valley, tributary glaciers of the main Travers Glacier entered the valley at a higher level. When the glaciers retreated and finally disappeared, the valleys were left hanging.

At first, most side valleys would have had dramatic vertical waterfalls, but these have since been reduced in height by erosion from the top of the falls and deposition of fans at the bottom. As recently as 1995, evidence of this process became apparent after a large area of rock face fell from the hanging valley of Whisky Falls and plummeted to the base of the falls below.

History and culture

The remains of an illicit whisky still were found here in the 1880s, giving the falls their name.

Know before you go

  • Be prepared with warm and waterproof clothing. Nelson Lakes National Park is in an alpine area – freezing conditions can occur at any time of year. 
  • No rubbish facilities are provided – carry out all your rubbish.
  • Biting sandflies can detract for your experience at the lakes, especially during the summer months – cover up and apply a good quality insect repellant to exposed skin.
  • Wasps are a known hazard and are particularly common from December until April – carry antihistamine if you are allergic to their stings.


Rotoiti / Nelson Lakes Visitor Centre
Phone:   +64 3 521 1806
Fax:   +64 4 471 1117
Email:   nelsonlakesvc@doc.govt.nz
Address:   View Road
St Arnaud
Postal Address:   PO Box 55
St Arnaud 7053
Whakatū / Nelson Visitor Centre
Phone:   +64 3 546 9339
Fax:   +64 4 471 1117
Email:   nelsonvc@doc.govt.nz
Address:   Millers Acre/Taha o te Awa
79 Trafalgar Street
Nelson 7010
Postal Address:   Private Bag 5
Nelson 7042
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