2 hours return
If you’re anything like me, after spending some time in a city you’d like to get back out into nature and do some hiking.
I was pretty happy to find out about this short day hike to Whispering Falls, just a 40 minute drive out of Nelson city centre, at the top of New Zealand’s South Island.
After wandering through forests and over rivers, it was hard to believe that I’d been in town earlier that same day!
The walk itself is beautiful and it culminates in a gorgeous waterfall unlike most others in New Zealand.
So, if you’re in the “Top of the South” and fancy a beautiful few hours in nature, this is the hike for you.
How to get there
From Nelson or Richmond, follow the SH6 south until you reach the small town of Hope.
Turn left onto Aniseed Valley Road and follow it for around 12km until you reach a car park on your right at Hackett Valley.
Be aware that the turning for the car park is on a bend and could easily be missed if you’re not keeping an eye out for it.
The car park is free and the track starts here.
Forests and river crossings
From the car park, head for the bridge which crosses the river.
In summer this area below the bridge is a nice spot for a swim, but as I visited in winter I wasn’t about to try it!
After the bridge, the track continues as a gravel road for a way, before curving up and around to the left and heading into a forest area.
At this point, leave the gravel road and continue straight onto a smaller footpath. Don’t follow the road up into the forest as this is private land.
Once you’re on the footpath, you’ll notice that you’ve rejoined the river again and you’ll continue alongside it until you reach a swing bridge.
I love how many swing bridges there are in New Zealand!
You’ve now crossed the same river twice, and you’ll cross it twice again before you reach Whispering Falls.
After the swing bridge, the track continues along the other side of the river.
In winter, it seems as though this area is not touched by the sun all day; each blade of grass was coated in a thick layer of frost and the path got more slippery.
At times, it also becomes pretty narrow and uneven so take extra care and make sure you don’t slip!
There are some really lovely spots along here to stop and take photos, especially with the frost.
Before you reach your third river crossing, there is a fork in the path. Take the left, which is well signposted.
Cross with care
The next river crossing is different in that there is no bridge.
I found the crossing easy to manage by stepping on some well-placed stones that span the river, but please bear in mind that this will depend on recent rainfall and the height of the river.
If there has been recent heavy rain, the crossing could become dangerous.
I trust you to use your own judgement and be sensible in deciding whether it is safe to cross or not.
Remember that this track returns on the same route, so you’ll have to do this crossing again on the way back.
Once you’ve reached the other side, you will need to clamber up a rocky slope to rejoin the path.
The track continues at an easy level until the fourth and final river crossing. And you’ll be pleased to know that there is a bridge this time!
You’re almost there!
After the final bridge, follow the track as it starts heading uphill into the trees, leaving the river behind.
There is a bit of a climb and some boulders and tree roots to scramble over, but before long you’ll reach a small stream.
Listen carefully and you can hear the light tinkling sound of water falling.
Continue up a little further and you’ll see it!
Curtains of falling water droplets over multi-coloured rocks and mosses.
Oranges, greens and blues sparkle on the cliff face as the water dances in front of it.
It’s a truly magical sight, and I can understand why it’s called Whispering Falls.
Sure, it’s not as awe-inspiring as many of the thundering waterfalls in this country, but it has its own unique charm and beauty.
After the falls, the track continues a little way up a hill to a viewpoint with a picnic bench.
Once you’re ready to return, just follow the same track all the way back to the car park.
This walk is full of beauty: not just at the falls, but the entire way along.
There are some beautiful birds in the area, too. At one point I was being led along the path by a tiny little tomtit!
As always, I recommend that you take a good sturdy pair of shoes and plenty of water.
And don’t forget to consider the weather for that river crossing!
Have you done this hike, or would you like to? Let me know if you enjoy it as much as I do! 🙂
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