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Sutherland Waterfall

Nature creation - Earth Waterfall ::--1.Guaza - Brazil|| 2.Victoria - Zimbabwe|| 3.Niagara - USA|| 4.Plitvice - Croatia|| 5.Angel - Venezuela|| 6.Yosemite - USA|| 7.Kaieteur - Guyana|| 8.Gullfoss - Iceland9. ||Dettifoss - Iceland|| 10.Sutherland - N.Z.||Water Fall List||

Sutherland Falls

Sutherland Falls is a waterfall near Milford Sound in New Zealand's South Island. At 580 metres (1,904 feet) the falls were long believed to be the tallest waterfall in New Zealand. However, Browne Falls cascades 843 metres (2,766 feet) down a mountainside in Doubtful Sound, leading some to view that as the tallest.

Water falls in three cascades, the upper is 229 m tall, middle - 248 m, lower - 103 m tall. Vertical fall of 580 m is made over 480 m of horizontal distance, thus the mean grade of falls is approximately 56 degrees.

The base of Sutherland Falls is a 90 minutes (return) walk from Quintin Public Shelter on the Milford Track.


Sutherland Falls is New Zealand's mightiest waterfall.Plunging 580m in three distinct vertical leaps, it is amongst the tallest waterfalls in the world. There's a memorable story about how this waterfall got named, which you can read more about in this book.
This waterfall also vies with Browne Falls as well as Bluff Falls for the title of tallest waterfall in New Zealand. Depending on your definition of a waterfall, some people would say that both Browne and Bluff trumps Sutherland in height.


Either way, there's no denying that it's Sutherland that's the most spectacular as it has the steepest slope and the most satisfying shape.


It is one of the most popular waterfalls of New Zealand and is in a unique location: Fiorland National Park which is found on the World Heritage List.


Sutherland Falls is one of the world's highest waterfalls and the natural wilderness where there is for most tourists who come to see it, a big plus.

Sutherland Falls
Fiordland, New Zealand,
Total height
Number of drops
Longest drop
Average flow rate
11 m3/s

sutherland fall

Sutherland Falls is a waterfall near Milford Sound in the Fiordland National Park, New Zealand. Amongst the tallest waterfalls in the world, it has a steep slope. The water plunges in three cascades; the upper is 229 meters (751 ft.) tall, the middle – 248 meters (813 ft.) and the  lower – 103 meters (338 ft.), in a total vertical fall of 580 meters (1902 ft.).

Sutherland Falls are fed by a small circular lake, named Lake Quill, which occupies a small rock basin that was formed by ice-action during the Ice Age, and spills almost directly down a near-vertical mountain-wall into a valley.

Its most beautiful angle is taken from above on a helicopter flight, when you can see the lake behind the waterfall framed with snow-capped mountains in the cold seasons.

The most impressive falls in New Zealand are Sutherland Falls. Technically there are higher falls (836 m tall Browne Falls) or more powerful ones (Huka Falls) but Sutherland Falls provide the thrill - noise, quake of soil and magnificent sight. There are few waterfalls in the world which are more impressive.

Discovery of Donald Sutherland and John Mackay

First settler in the beautiful Milford Sound was adventurer, soldier and sailor Donald Sutherland. He looked for silent and calm life here and enjoyed walking in the beautiful valleys of Fiordland, looking for gold and greenstone.

One day arrived his old friend John Mackay and they both together went to explore unexplored valleys south-west from Milford Sound.

After walking for three days in November 10th 1880 they were the first white people to see the giant falls - the distant roar of falling water was heard already in the morning of the day. Both men were hugely impressed and considered that falls are more than one kilometer high.

Surveyors came here in 1888 and measured the falls - they were "just" 580 m tall. Milford Track opened in the same year and first tourists came to see the falls. This has continued since then - falls are available by 3 km long track from Quintin Public Shelter at Milford Track.

Giant falls

Sutherland Falls originate from Lake Quill - comparatively large lake fed by glaciers around it. Arthur River leaves the lake and, after falling down along the Sutherland Falls, continues up to the Milford Sound.

The height of waterfall is that large that even the climatic zones change along it. Above, around the lake, are alpine meadows but after some seconds water rushes down in a temperate rainforest.

Falls have three cascades. Height of each step (from above) is: 229 m, 248 m, 103 m. Waterfall falls per 580 m over the horizontal distance of 480 m - thus the mean angle is 56°.

Average volume of water in it: 11 m³ per second, maximum recorded volume - 142 m³ per second, what still is 17 times less than in Niagara.

The force of the falling water creates constant winds and fog, making the base of falls constantly damp and dark. In dry weather though it is possible to go behind the last cascade. This is amazing experience - one gets wet instantly, winds are that fierce that it is hard to breathe.