Browne Falls

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Browne Falls is a waterfall above Doubtful Sound, which is located in Fiordland National Park, New Zealand. In a temperate rain forest, the falls cascade down to the fiord near Hall Arm. Heights of 619 metres and 836 metres have been given for the falls. Their source is a tarn called Lake Browne (836 m above sea level) which when full, overflows down the side of the mountain face (similar to Sutherland’s source). The stream makes 836 m height difference over 1,130 m horizontal difference, thus the mean gradient of stream is 42 degrees. This comparatively low angle makes the falls less impressive.

The falls are one of the two candidates for the title of New Zealand’s highest waterfall. The other is sourced from a tarn behind Elizabeth Island which is also in Fiordland.

The falls are named after pioneering aerial photographer, Victor Carlyle Browne, who discovered Lake Browne and the associated falls on one of his flights over Fiordland in the 1940s.

Natural history

here is a diversity of plant and birdlife in the vicinity and watershed of Browne Falls. Extensive stands of nothofagus dominated trees are present along with a wide variety of understory ferns and shrubs; examples of the forest floor vegetation include Crown Fern, Blechnum discolor.

This is the tallest waterfall in New Zealand. The falls cascade down a steep, twisting course, before emptying into Doubtful Sound. It appears that the falls are fairly consistently sloped, but there may be a single drop in the range of 600-700 feet near the top of the falls. The height of this waterfall is more commonly listed as 2031 feet, however, the topographic maps clearly show this to be an underestimate. The falls drop out of Lake Browne which is 836 meters above sea level. The waters drop continuously to Doubtful Sound below.


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Location -45.39753, 167.08033
Elevation 2744 feet (asl)


Total Height 2,744 feet 836 meters
Tallest Drop 800 feet 244 meters
Num of Drops 6
Avg. Width 40 feet 12 meters
Max. Width
Form Steep Tiered Cascades
Avg. High Volume 100 cfs (0 months) 3 cms
Avg. Low Volume 50 cfs (12 months) 1 cms
Source Lake
Flow Consistency
Best Flow

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