The Chasm

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

Rating: 1     Difficulty: 1.5
Looking into a waterfall drilling into the rocks forming the Chasm

TABLE OF CONTENTS



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INTRODUCTION

The Chasm was really more of a nature walk than a waterfalling experience, but I'm including a write-up about it because there really was a waterfall within the narrow potholed gorge. The problem was that the falls could only be heard loudly but not seen safely as the Cleddau River was busy carving its way mostly unseen through the hard rocks that gave rise to this chasm. Not only was there a waterfall here, but there must have also been a natural bridge since the Cleddau River would disappear into the turbulent hole-like gorge only to re-emerge further downstream eventually emptying into the Milford Sound.

Our walk began from a very large car park (see directions below), which seemed to be so large that they accommodated tour groups here. Sure enough, we were accompanied by a Japanese tour group but even with the increased traffic, the walk still felt serene and intimate as we walked at our own pace through the dense temperate rainforest before reaching a footbridge directly above where the Cleddau River dropped into the namesake Chasm. Around the chasm itself were potholes in the rocks attesting to how the turbulent nature of the river would form little whirlpools or eddies that ultimately drilled those potholes. Indeed, such a quirk of Mother Nature defninitely left behind some psychedelic patterns, which made for some interesting photo ops.

And speaking of photo ops, I'm afraid that both the waterfall and possible arch couldn't be photographed well since we were looking down into the drop of the Cleddau River as the river disappeared into the dark depths of the chasm. Thus, Julie and I had to treat this as a nature walk to be experienced as opposed to photographed. But at least it provided us with a chance to do a little walking instead of exclusively autotouring, especially since they had closed the walk to the base of nearby Bowen Falls just prior to our arrival in November 2004.




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PHOTO JOURNAL

Just 9km further north of The Chasm was the famous Milford Sound at the end of the SH94Just 9km further north of The Chasm was the famous Milford Sound at the end of the SH94
This was the west end of the Homer Tunnel just 8km to the south of The ChasmThis was the west end of the Homer Tunnel just 8km to the south of The Chasm
While making the drive between Te Anau and The Chasm, we stopped at the Mirror Lakes, where we got this scene though the waters were rippling too much to make the upside down side read right-side upWhile making the drive between Te Anau and The Chasm, we stopped at the Mirror Lakes, where we got this scene though the waters were rippling too much to make the upside down side read right-side up
Some cliffs by the car park for The ChasmSome cliffs by the car park for The Chasm

Julie on the lush nature walk for The ChasmJulie on the lush nature walk for The Chasm

Looking down over some waterfall tier that the walk went besidesLooking down over some waterfall tier that the walk went besides

Looking towards the bridge with a partial view of the Cleddau RiverLooking towards the bridge with a partial view of the Cleddau River

Looking upstream from the bridge over the Cleddau River just above The ChasmLooking upstream from the bridge over the Cleddau River just above The Chasm

Closer examination of the strange pothole formations above The ChasmCloser examination of the strange pothole formations above The Chasm

Tourists check out the Chasm from the footbridge above itTourists check out the spectacle from the footbridge above it


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VIDEOS OF THE FALLS




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DRIVING DIRECTIONS

The nearest town of any appreciable size to Fiordland National Park was Te Anau so we'll describe the driving directions from there. Te Anau was about 171km (2 hours drive) southwest of Queenstown and 153km (2 hours drive) north of Invercargill. Christchurch is about 484km (6 hours drive) from Queenstown and 566km (7 hours drive) from Invercargill.

Heading north from Te Anau along the SH94 (Milford Highway), we drove for about 96km towards the Homer Tunnel (or 11km west of Christie Falls). When we emerged on the other side of the roughly 1 km tunnel, we then descended the hairpin turns and went another 8km to the car park for The Chasm on the left side of the road.

This was roughly 9km south of the Milford Sound at the very end of SH94.




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ITINERARIES

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




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MAP OF THE FALLS



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TRIP REPORTS

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




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TRIP PLANNING RESOURCES




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NEARBY WATERFALLS




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