Sutherland Falls

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Sutherland Falls
Sutherland Falls.jpg
LocationFiordland, New Zealand
Coordinates44°48′.8028″S 167°43′48.76″E / 44.800223000°S 167.7302111°E / -44.800223000; 167.7302111
Total height581 m
Number of drops3
Longest drop248 m
flow rate
11 m3/s

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.[1] Terror Falls, in the Poseidon Valley (nearby), are 750m, and Browne Falls cascades 843 metres (2,766 feet) down a mountainside in Doubtful Sound, leading some to view that as the tallest.[2]

The water falls from Lake Quill in three cascades: the upper is 229 m tall, the middle is 248 m, and the lower is 103 m tall. A vertical fall of 580 m is made over 480 m of horizontal distance, thus the mean grade of falls is approximately 56 degrees.[citation needed]

The base of Sutherland Falls is a 90 minutes (return) walk from Quintin Public Shelter on the Milford Track.[3]

Sutherland Falls are visible in the background of the eagle scene in Peter Jackson’s fantasy film The Hobbit.[4]


Sutherland Falls was first known to Europeans when a Scottish settler, Donald Sutherland,[5] saw them in 1880.[6] He initially claimed the falls were over 1,000 m (3,300 ft) tall, which would have made them the highest in the world by far. Later surveys showed that this claim was significantly inflated, and they have been confirmed to actually be 580 m (1,900 ft) tall.[1]

Lake Quill, which forms the source of the falls, was named for the first European explorer who climbed up the cliff face to find it in 1890.[1]


  1. ^ a b c Scheffel, Richard L.; Wernet, Susan J., eds. (1980). Natural Wonders of the World. United States of America: Reader's Digest Association, Inc. pp. 363. ISBN 0-89577-087-3.
  2. ^ Jock Phillips. Waterfalls – A land of waterfalls, Te Ara – the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, Ministry for Culture and Heritage. ISBN 978-0-478-18451-8. Updated 1 March 2009. Retrieved 2 September 2010.
  3. ^ Milford Track – Track description, New Zealand Department of Conservation. Retrieved 19 May 2011.
  4. ^ "Filming Locations for Peter Jackson's The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, around New Zealand". The Worldwide Guide to Movie Locations. Retrieved 12 January 2021.
  5. ^ Parham, W. T. "Sutherland, Donald". Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Retrieved 5 August 2020.
  6. ^ "The Sutherland Falls". Poverty Bay Herald. 15 May 1907. p. 2. Retrieved 31 March 2018.

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