These falls were discovered in 1880 by a prospector and explorer, Donald Sutherland. With a total drop of 580 metres in three leaps, they soon attained fame as the ‘highest fall in New Zealand’, although this claim has since been challenged. The falls became a popular stop on the Milford Track, which tourists began to use in 1888. Two years later a young surveyor, William Quill, climbed up beside the fall. The tarn which feeds the falls was named Lake Quill in his honour.
Download the document to read Quill’s description, written soon after his perilous climb (53 KB).
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Natural Sciences Image Library of New Zealand
Photograph by G. R. Roberts
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