Horsetail Falls is an impressive seasonal waterfall.
It’s located just outside Queenstown, which is a beautiful historic mining town hidden in a valley on the slopes of Mount Owen deep in the wild western region of Tasmania.
Reaching the falls is a short 5-kilometre drive from Queenstown up the Lyell Highway on a mountain road made up predominantly of hairpin turns.
Discovering Horsetail Falls
As avid waterfall hunters, we always knew the waterfall existed. And we even had a rough idea the falls was located somewhere in the vicinity of Queenstown. But we discovered the falls entirely by accident.
While driving up the zig-zagging mountain road out of Queenstown headed towards our destination for the day, Iron Blow Lookout, we got our first sighting of the falls.
Turning the sharp hairpin corner, the views opened up and in the distance, we caught our first glimpse of the lovely mountain vistas and the falls far away on the horizon.
I knew right away that I was going to be making a detour to check out this waterfall.
But after an early morning start, and a long day of driving, my family didn’t agree. So doing what all avid photographers do, I left them in the car while I went waterfall hunting.
Horsetail Falls Boardwalk
The 30-minute return walk begins with a short gravel pathway that quickly changes to a sturdy wooden boardwalk which wraps around the mountainside.
The first two-thirds of the boardwalk is relatively flat and easy-going, with only the occasional step to tackle. Whereas the second half leading up to the viewing platform is made up almost entirely of steps with short sections of boardwalk in-between.
The raised boardwalk, which is perched high atop the mountainside provides some fantastic views out over the valley floor below and the surrounding mountain ranges that encircle Queenstown.
On a clear day, the view above the mountains allows you to see far off to the horizon beyond.
Looking back towards the mountains, the huge Hollywood-esque sign welcoming you to Queenstown can be seen high up on the mountain as well as the Lyell Highway curving its way up the mountainside.
Around the halfway mark, the falls come into view. Cascading down the mountainside off in the distance.
Unlike Dip Falls with its huge size and powerful raging water, these falls are a delicate single stream falling high from the mountainside.
Unlike most waterfalls, Horsetail Falls seemingly has no visible water source feeding them. The water just gushes out of a high rocky outcrop and tumbles 50 metres down the jagged mountainside.
This single fall impacts the rocks below and breaks the falls into two before disappearing into the vegetation at the bottom of the valley.
Viewing The Falls
The boardwalk to the falls ends at a viewing platform with a high vantage looking out over the falls. But you only need to walk to around the halfway mark to get a nice view of the falls.
Finishing the boardwalk at the viewing platform gives you a slightly side-on view of the falls which I didn’t think was the best angle. The view, in my opinion, is inferior to the straight-on view from around the halfway point of the boardwalk.
Stopping halfway also means you miss most of the steps that occur near the end of the boardwalk.
Horsetail Falls is not only a beautiful waterfall, but the surrounding scenery is stunning also.
The boardwalk provides an easy and pleasant walk that’s worth a visit.
- 30-45 minutes
- Due to the seasonal nature of the falls, it’s best visited during winter when heavier rainfalls increase the flow
- Iron Blow