Devils Punch bowl is a spectacular waterfall in Arthur’s Pass National Park. The powerful 131 meters (430 feet) high waterfall cascades down a steep cliff face creating a spectacular misty display as the water crashes into the pool below. The surrounding area is full of lush native vegetation, including beech forests and alpine plants, which adds to the beauty of the setting. Via a well maintained and quite easy walking track you can get to the viewing platform of Devils Punchbowl waterfall where you can admire its power and beauty. Devils Punchbowl Falls is one of the most beautiful waterfalls of the South Island and is very easy to visit. So lace up your shoes and put Devils Punchbowl waterfall on your New Zealand itinerary! Find here all the information you need to know about visiting the waterfall.
How to get to Devils Punchbowl waterfall
Devils Punchbowl waterfall is located in Arthur’s Pass village and you will most likely pass it when crossing New Zealand’s South Island from the West Coast to the East coast or visa versa. The park is located on State Highway 73, the road which runs between Christchurch and Greymouth.
Type into Google Maps ‘Devil’s Punchbowl Car park’ and you can’t miss it. From here the short track starts to Devils Punchbowl viewing platform.
The easiest way to get to Devils Punchbowl waterfall is by rental car. However when you don’t have a rental car, you can also travel by bus or train. There are several bus companies that operate services to Arthur’s Pass National Park, including Atomic Shuttles, Intercity, and Kiwi Experience. Bus services are available from Christchurch, Greymouth, and other nearby towns.
If you prefer to travel by train, then the TranzAlpine train service runs between Christchurch and Greymouth and stops at Arthur’s Pass Station. From the station, it’s a short walk to the start of the hiking trail that leads to the Devil’s Punchbowl Waterfall.
Best time to visit Devils Punchbowl waterfall
Generally the best time to go waterfall chasing is after (some) rainy days. The waterfalls are more powerful and can be admired in all its glory. The same goes for Devils Punchbowl waterfall, however the waterfall flow will be always there. Which means that the waterfall won’t dry up in the summer months which is sometimes the case with other waterfalls.
Devils Punchbowl waterfall is open year-round, and because the track is so well maintained you can even visit during a very rainy day, like we did.
In the autumn months of March to May, the surrounding forests put on a colorful display of autumn foliage, creating a beautiful backdrop for the waterfall. Visiting in the winter months of June to August can be very unique as the waterfall may freeze partly creating an icy wonderland!
Devils Punchbowl waterfall hike key facts
Before we dive into the details about the Devils Punchbowl waterfall hike, let’s first have a look at the key facts of the trail so you’re well prepared!
Devils Punchbowl waterfall hike distance and duration: The short 2 km return via the same track will take you about an hour to complete.
Devils Punchbowl waterfall hike difficulty and incline: You will gain about 150 meters incline up a series of steps to the viewing platform. The track is very well maintained and easy to follow.
What to expect at Devils Punchbowl waterfall
At the car park of Devils Punchbowl waterfall you will see the trailhead clearly signposted. Follow the well maintained gravel path where you will soon cross the first bridge.
The path then winds its way up in the canyon through beech forest until you reach the viewing platform of Devils Punchbowl waterfall. Although there are some steps, it’s nothing to worry about and the track feels more like a short leisure walk.
We had a lot of rain during our visit but it made the forest and waterfall even more mysterious. Devils Punchbowl fall was gushing down with lots of power and although we got really wet, it felt like a refreshing break from our road trip from the West to the East coast.
How to get around in New Zealand
To experience New Zealand to the fullest and at your own pace, renting a car, campervan or motorhome is the best way to get around. Which one of these options you choose depends on your preference and budget. If you love camping, being outdoors all day and you don’t mind a smaller living space, then renting a camper van is the way to go. It also gives you the freedom to sleep at some of the most beautiful camping spots, but for some of them you’ll have to make a reservation and plan your trip accordingly. The same goes for a motorhome which is bigger than a campervan and fits about 4-6 people. Here’s what you need to know about renting a car, camper van or motorhome in New Zealand.
Car rental New Zealand
Renting a car in New Zealand is the easiest and cheapest rental vehicle available. It will get you to all the best destinations with ease and gives you the freedom to stop for a break wherever you want. However, you should keep in mind that some roads in New Zealand are still gravel or that you have to cross shallow rivers to some destinations in National Parks. Therefore we personally recommend a mini SUV or SUV model to have enough clearance for these kind of roads.
The best place to book your rental car in New Zealand is on Discover Cars where you can compare different car models, prices, companies and terms and conditions. Make sure to secure the booking of your rental car as soon as possible to have the lowest price possible. Prices go up the closer you get to the pick up date.
Campervan rental in New Zealand
Traveling around in a campervan is one of the most popular ways for a roadtrip in New Zealand. With a bed, small kitchen and seating area you will have all the (basic) needs on four wheels. A campervan allows you to camp at plenty of beautiful places, sometimes for free, sometimes for a fee. It will you give you a true feeling of freedom and connects you with nature.
We personally recommend to book your campervan with Travellers Autobarn as they have a wide range of Stationwagons, 2-berth campervans & 3-5 berth campervans to hire for all budgets. All Travellers Autobarn campervan hires in New Zealand come with free unlimited kilometers, 10% discount to premium campgrounds, 24/7 road side assistance & long term rental discounts. Check the availability and prices today to secure your campervan for a New Zealand dream roadtrip!
Best tours on the South Island
New Zealand’s South Island is full of adventure, stunning scenery and fun experiences to be made. There are few experiences which are an absolute must when you’re traveling New Zealand’s South Island. Below a summary of the best tours you can book.
An absolute unforgettable experience in New Zealand is a helicopter flight over the highest mountain of the country. During this tour you will glide over Aoraki/Mount Cook and down the Tasman glacier. You will land in pristine snow and walk around to take in the impressive views of the snow capped mountains and glacier. A once in a lifetime experience!
Depart during a morning cruise on a smaller boat that travels outside of peak hours. This will give you prime viewing and more time on the water than other tours. You will listen to the informative commentary from the passionate skippers of Southern Discoveries and enjoy a provided picnic lunch. If you want to, you can include a kayak excursion and paddle Harrison Cove in a small-group. Limited to 8 people you will have a very intimate experience to really take in the immense scale of the bluffs and explore Milford Sound in a unique way.
The lesser known and quieter version of Milford Sound is Doubtful Sound. During this full-day tour you will journey across the clear waters of Lake Manapouri to Doubtful Sound. Make sure to keep an eye out for wildlife while taking in the scenery. If you’re lucky you might see fur seals, bottlenose dolphins, and crested and little blue penguins. You naturalist guide will tell you everything and point out interesting sights.
A Milford Sound scenic flight is the perfect way to see the impressive landscape of Fiordland NP from the air. Depart from Milford Airport and track west along Milford Sound. Climb alongside Bowen Falls and Mitre Peak for some great views of the fiords and its towering peaks. After the 20 minute helicopter flight you will return to Milford base.
Another way to see Fiordland National Park from above is when you booked the scenic fly-cruise-fly tour from Queenstown. You will get a round trip flight from Queenstown to Milford Sound followed by a boat cruise in Milford Sound. Take in the spectacular views of the snow capped mountains of the Southern Alps, remote valleys and waterfalls. During the flight you will have an amazing aerial view of Lake Quill and Sutherland Falls as can be seen on the picture below. This experience will take your breath away and is a must do if your budget allows it. Without a doubt some of the most scenic flights in New Zealand.
More New Zealand travel guides
I hope you enjoyed this complete guide about the Devils Punchbowl waterfall. Make sure to put this awesome hike on your New Zealand South Island itinerary! If you want to visit more waterfalls in New Zealand, then check here our complete guide to the 30 best New Zealand waterfalls.
There are many amazing other things to do and places to visit on the South Island of New Zealand. So if you’re looking for travel tips, head over to our other New Zealand travel guides and read more!