Bowen Falls

Fiordland National Park / Milford Sound / Te Wahipounamu World Heritage Area, Southland Region (South Island), New Zealand

Rating: 4     Difficulty: 1
Bowen Falls

TABLE OF CONTENTS



[Back to top]

INTRODUCTION

Bowen Falls was the first major waterfall that we encountered while visiting the famous Milford Sound. I felt inclined to give this waterfall its own write-up because there was a trail that left from the Milford Sound wharf and ended up right at the base of this majestic 161m waterfall (said to be the tallest permanent waterfall in the fiord; of course it only competed with Stirling Falls for that title). In any case, we weren't able to hike to the bottom of Bowen Falls in November 2004 because they closed off the trail due to cliff instability not long before our arrival (bummer!). When we made a return trip five years later in December 2009, we came to the realization that this trail closure might be permanent because it was still closed at that time.

So the only way we were able to really experience the falls was from one of those Milford Sound cruises that just about everyone that comes here would do. We also got a chance to see it when we took the boat shuttle from Sandfly Point at the end of the multi-day Milford Track and ended up back at the Milford Sound wharf. Finally, we also managed to see a partial view of the waterfall from one of the side roads leading to shores of the Deepwater Basin at the very south end of the Milford Sound.

Despite our inability to get to truly experience Bowen Falls in a more intimate setting, I decided to give the falls the benefit of the doubt in terms of the scenic rating. After all, I still reckon that it could very well be the most photographed waterfall in the Milford Sound simply because it was so close to the dock area, while facing New Zealand's most dramatic and most famous fiord. Indeed, with this waterfall, I admit that I was partial to it because of its location. It's not often that you get a convenient waterfalling excuse resulting in what could very well that rare magical waterfalling experience that could only happen in a very special place like this.

Speaking of magical places, there was so much more to the Milford Sound (including more waterfalls) than what was stated and shown on this page. I tried to capture the remainder of that experience outside of Bowen Falls in our Stirling Falls write-up.




[Back to top]

PHOTO JOURNAL

This was the famous view of the Milford Sound from the car park near the end of the SH94, but whether you see it in this form or not largely depends on the weather (it rains a lot here)This was the famous view of the Milford Sound from the car park near the end of the SH94, but whether you see it in this form or not largely depends on the weather (it rains a lot here)
Looking back at Milford Sound township framed by Bowen Falls on the left and the rain-drenched Cleddau River ValleyLooking back at Milford Sound township framed by Bowen Falls on the left and the rain-drenched Cleddau River Valley
When we emerged from the west end of the Homer Tunnel and made the final 18km drive to the Milford Sound, the scenery was really dramatic as it led up to the grand finaleWhen we emerged from the west end of the Homer Tunnel and made the final 18km drive to the Milford Sound, the scenery was really dramatic as it led up to the grand finale
While returning from Milford Sound towards Te Anau, we made a stop along the Milford Hwy at the Mirror Lakes. It wasn't really reflecting at the time, but the scenery here was dramaticWhile returning from Milford Sound towards Te Anau, we made a stop along the Milford Hwy at the Mirror Lakes. It wasn't really reflecting at the time, but the scenery here was dramatic
This was our very first look at Bowen Falls, which was from the shores of the Deepwater Basin of Milford SoundThis was our very first look at Bowen Falls, which was from the shores of the Deepwater Basin of Milford Sound

Our next exposure to Bowen Falls came when we took the boat shuttle from Sandfly Point to Milford Sound township at the end of the Milford TrackOur next exposure to the falls came when we took the boat shuttle from Sandfly Point to Milford Sound township at the end of the Milford Track

Looking back at some cliffs with a pair of stringy ephemeral waterfalls near Sandfly PointLooking back at some cliffs with a pair of stringy ephemeral waterfalls near Sandfly Point

Frontal view of Bowen Falls from the Sandfly Point shuttleFrontal view of the falls from the Sandfly Point shuttle

Looking through the rain towards Stirling Falls way off in the distance as we were on the Sandfly Point shuttleLooking through the rain towards Stirling Falls way off in the distance as we were on the Sandfly Point shuttle

More contextual view of Bowen Falls from the Sandfly Point shuttleMore contextual view of the falls from the Sandfly Point shuttle

The very next day after the end of the Milford Track, we went on a Milford Sound Cruise in better weather where we got this view of Bowen FallsThe very next day after the end of the Milford Track, we went on a Milford Sound Cruise in better weather where we got this view of the falls

Not far from Bowen Falls, there were dolphins swimming around our cruise vesselNot far from the falls, there were dolphins swimming around our cruise vessel

Focused and unobstructed frontal look at Bowen Falls at the end of our Milford Sound Cruise in November 2004Focused and unobstructed frontal look at the falls at the end of our Milford Sound Cruise in November 2004

Here's a view towards the Mitre Peak Lodge, which was where the guided Milford Track Trampers got to spend the very last nightHere's a view towards the Mitre Peak Lodge, which was where the guided Milford Track Trampers got to spend the very last night

Julie and I then got to see Bowen Falls again when we returned in December 2009 to go on one of the popular Milford Sound Cruises on a rainy dayJulie and I then got to see the falls once again when we returned in December 2009 to go on one of the popular Milford Sound Cruises on a rainy day

Closer angled view of Bowen Falls as the boat returned to the dockCloser angled view of the falls as the boat returned to the dock

We had plenty of time to photograph Bowen Falls as our vessel was waiting to return to the dockWe had plenty of time to photograph the falls as our vessel was waiting to return to the dock

When our December 2009 Milford Sound Cruise was done, this was the view of the Cleddau River Valley as we walked back to the car parkWhen our December 2009 Milford Sound Cruise was done, this was the view of the Cleddau River as we walked back to the car park


[Back to top]

VIDEOS OF THE FALLS


Approaching the falls on the return leg of the cruise


L-shaped sweep from the wharf to the top of the falls


Bottom up closeup sweep of the falls


[Back to top]

DRIVING DIRECTIONS

Bowen Falls was best experienced from the very common Milford Sound Cruise, which took off from the very end of the SH94 (Milford Sound Highway) about 118km north of Te Anau. Allow a little over 2 hours (depending on traffic) for this drive.

For more context, Te Anau was about 171km (2 hours drive) southwest of Queenstown and 153km (2 hours drive) north of Invercargill.




[Back to top]

ITINERARIES

For more information about our itineraries involving this waterfall, check out the following links.




[Back to top]

MAP OF THE FALLS



Click here for the full World of Waterfalls map





[Back to top]

TRIP REPORTS

For more information about our experiences with this waterfall, check out the following travel stories.




[Back to top]

TRIP PLANNING RESOURCES




[Back to top]

NEARBY WATERFALLS




[Back to top]

RELATED PAGES



Have You Been To This Waterfall?

Share your experience!

Click here to see visitor comments for this waterfall

Click here to see visitor comments for other waterfalls that we've visited in this region

Click here to go to the Comments Main Page

You can use the form below, but if you find our host's interface too troublesome to use (especially if you're trying to upload photos), then just send a text submission anyways using the form, but also let us know that you'd like to attach photos. If you've provided an email address via the form, then we can reply back acknowledging your request, and you can then reply to that email with your photo attachments. We're very sorry about this, but there's not much we can do about SBI's terrible interface.



[Back to top]

[Go to the South Island Waterfalls Page]

[Go to the New Zealand Page]


[Return from Bowen Falls to the World of Waterfalls Home Page]