Hiking Guide to Devils Punchbowl Waterfall in New Zealand

Devils Punch Bowl is a spectacular waterfall in Arthur’s Pass National Park. The powerful 131-meter (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 the 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 that 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. Several bus companies 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. This 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. 


Devils Punchbowl Waterfall Trail description

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. Although we got really wet, it felt like a refreshing break from our road trip from the West to the East Coast. 


More Amazing New Zealand waterfalls to explore

Are you a waterfall lover just like us? Then you’re at the right place in New Zealand! There’s an abundance of beautiful waterfalls in New Zealand, and we had the pleasure to visit many of them! Here is a short overview of some of the best waterfalls in New Zealand you must visit!

Purakaunui Falls

Located on the southern part of the South Island in the Catlins, Purakaunui Falls is a beautiful three-tiered waterfall that can be reached after a short 15-minute walk through the mature beech forest. With 20 meters in height over 3 tiers, it isn’t the highest waterfall in New Zealand, but because of its different tiers and the way the water is falling down the rocks, it’s definitely one of the most beautiful!


Rob Roy waterfalls

While you might not think about this series of beautiful waterfalls at first, they can’t be missed in my opinion on this list of the best New Zealand waterfalls. In fact, the Rob Roy waterfalls include everything that New Zealand is about for me. Hanging glaciers, lush forest, and river valleys with gushing waterfalls cascading down the sheer rock face of the glacier. It’s an incredibly spectacular sight and relatively easy to get to from Wanaka via the Rob Roy Glacier track in Mount Aspiring National Park. 


Bridal Veil Falls 

Bridal Veil Falls is a stunning waterfall located near the town of Raglan in the Waikato region on the North Island. It is one of the most impressive waterfalls in the area with a height of 55 meters (180 feet) and absolutely worth a visit. Bridal Veil Falls cascades over a sheer cliff face and gets its name from the delicate and elegant way the water spreads out like a bridal veil as it falls, especially during times of high flow.


Marokopa Falls 

Some of the most beautiful New Zealand waterfalls is located on the western side of the North Island. The 35-meter-high Marokopa Falls flows down the rocks into a deep pool below, creating a powerful roar and misty atmosphere. Surrounded by lush greenery and native bush, the Marokopa Falls is a beautiful natural attraction to visit. The waterfall viewing platform is very easily accessible by a short walk from the car park.


Lady Bowen Falls

Lady Bowen Falls is one of the iconic waterfalls in Milford Sound plunging down a steep rock face directly into the sound’s dark, deep waters of Milford Sound. Located near the entrance of the Milford Sound fiords, you can easily spot Lady Bowen Falls either from the ground or when cruising into the fjord. Lady Bowen Falls has a vertical drop of approximately 162 meters (531 feet), making it one of the highest waterfalls in New Zealand.


How to get around in New Zealand 

To experience New Zealand to the fullest and at your own pace, renting a carcampervan 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 this 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 pickup date.


Campervan rental in New Zealand

Traveling around in a campervan is one of the most popular ways for a road trip 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 give you a true feeling of freedom and fully connects you with nature.

We recommend booking your campervan with Travellers Autobarn as they have a wide range of Station wagons, 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, a 10% discount to premium campgrounds, 24/7 roadside assistance & long-term rental discounts. Check the availability and prices today to secure your campervan for a New Zealand dream road trip!

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 a few experiences that are an absolute must when you’re traveling New Zealand’s South Island. Below is a summary of the best tours you can book.

Check here the best New Zealand South Island tours on GetYourGuide

Check here the best New Zealand South Island tours on Viator

Mount Cook and The Glaciers Helicopter Flight

An absolutely unforgettable experience in New Zealand is a helicopter flight over the country’s highest mountain. 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!

→ Book here your Mount Cook and The Glaciers Helicopter Flight


Check here all Mount Cook tours on Viator

Check here all Mount Cook tours on GetYourGuide

Milford Sound Cruise and Kayak Tour

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.

→ Book here your Milford Sound Cruise and Kayak tour


Cruise to the hidden Doubtful Sound

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. 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. Your naturalist guide will tell you everything and point out interesting sights.  

→ Book here your cruise to the hidden Doubtful Sound


Take a scenic flight over Milford Sound

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.

→ Book here your scenic flight over Milford Sound

Another way to see Fiordland National Park from above is when you book 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.

→ Book here your Milford Sound Scenic Fly-Cruise-Fly departing Queenstown


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 New Zealand waterfalls, 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!

Mount Cook National Park

20 best things to do in Mount Cook National Park

12 best Mt Cook walks – The Ultimate Guide

10 best accommodations in Mount Cook National Park

Hooker Valley track – The Complete Guide

Sealy Tarns track – The Complete Guide

Tasman Glacier viewpoint – The Complete Guide

Mueller Hut Track – All You Need to Know

Lake Tekapo

20 best things to do in Lake Tekapo

Best restaurants in Lake Tekapo

Franz Josef Glacier Country

Best Franz Josef heli hike tours –  All You Need to Know

15 best walks in Franz Josef – The Ultimate Guide

Lake Matheson walk – The Complete Guide

Franz Josef Glacier walk – The Complete Guide

Roberts Point Track – All You Need to Know

Fox Glacier Walk & Walking on Fox Glacier Guide

Hokitika Gorge walk – The Complete Guide


30 best things to do in Queenstown – The Ultimate Guide

16 best hikes in Queenstown – The Ultimate Guide

10 best wine tours in Queenstown – The Complete Guide

12 best helicopter tours in Queenstown – The Complete Guide

20 best restaurants in Queenstown – The Complete Guide

Queenstown Hill walk – The Complete Guide

Ben Lomond track – The Complete Guide

Moke Lake loop track & viewpoint – The Complete Guide

Bobs Cove nature walk – The Complete Guide

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