Devils Punchbowl Falls: The Perfect Short Waterfall Walk between Christchurch and the West Coast

Devils Punchbowl Falls, Arthurs Pass Waterfall

Devils Punchbowl Falls is a towering waterfall, located in the Arthurs Pass Village about halfway between the Christchurch and the West Coast of the South Island, New Zealand.

This short waterfall walk took about 30 minutes to walk from the carpark to the end of the track at the Falls. There are a number of viewpoints of the falls along the way, but nothing beats standing close to the base and hearing the crash of the heaving water above you.

Devils Punchbowl Falls Track

This track has quite a few stairs to climb but our 3 and 5 year old walked the whole way there, and we shoulder carried the 3 year old parts of the way back, because he is clumsy and we don’t trust him down steep stairs.  He’s very active and interested, but I feel he would be the type of child who would follow a butterfly into the forest and get lost. Do you know what I mean?  But because its a short walk, they could definitely cope with the majority of it. You know your kids.

Don’t miss the turn!

I really enjoyed this stop in Arthurs Pass Village.  Parking is available at the start of the track, just by the river.  There are public portaloo toilets near the carpark, but nothing else on the track.  We drove from the East Coast and we actually missed the turnoff, which is the last road on the right hand side, just before you exit town up the hill, so we had to turn around and come back.  If you were coming from the West Coast, when you head down the hill and can see the township up ahead, its the first very sharp left turn. So keep an eye out. (There’s a photo down the bottom to show you what to look for.)

Arthurs Pass Village

There are cafes and food in the township, along with fuel. (albiet expensive. Fill up before you go)  If you have time, there are other walks and activities in the area.  I’ve made some links for you below.

Other Family Activities in Arthurs Pass

Devils Punchbowl Falls is the perfect short walk in Arthurs Pass.  With its views, bridges and the waterfall as its star, its a walk the kids and your whole family will enjoy.

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Founder of Backyard Travel Family

Jen is a super organiser when it comes to travel. Having travelled extensively in Europe and Africa, has lived in London and the USA and holidayed in many parts of Asia, she is not a newbie to the travel space

Jen has three young children, 5 and under and travels around New Zealand with them.

Backyard Travel Family New Zealand. Lets share these articles and spread the love

what you need to know


- Just under 2 hours from Christchurch Airport
-80 mins from Greymouth (West Coast)
- See article so you don't miss the carpark turn. We almost did

The trail

- Gravel and compacted dirt
- Quite a few stairs to climb
- Flat to the second bridge then uphill/undulating to the waterfall
- 2 bridges
- 1 very tall waterfall
- 1 hour return (to 80 mins with young legs)

Suitable for kids?

- Babies/Toddlers: Need to be carried
- Preschoolers: Can probably walk the majority of it. We carried our 3 year old back on our shoulders part of the way, but the track isn't far enough that this is too difficult.
- 5 year olds + can walk it on their own


- Portaloos in the carpark
- More toilets, food, amenities in Arthurs Pass Village (walking distance away)
- Wooden bench seats just before the second bridge with a view of the waterfall. A good snack stop here.

What to bring

- It was mid summer when we visited but that alpine wind was quite cool, then it was hot walking up all those stairs, so layers are advised
- Water bottle

Food options

- Arthurs Pass Store/Cafe and Wobbly Kea in the Arthurs Pass Village
- Bealey Hotel, about 10 mins towards Christchurch from the village

Further information

Click the ? for the DOC guide for this walk

What the critics thought

The main reason we stopped in Arthurs Pass Village was because we needed a break when travelling to the West Coast. It was the right amount of time to stretch their legs before continuing the journey, and the waterfall was surprisingly impressive.
Backyard Travel Family / Your go to for practical advice for active families travelling around New Zealand
Chief Travel Organiser
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