The Chasm

Fiordland National Park / Milford Sound, South Island, New Zealand

About The Chasm

Hiking Distance: 400m round trip
Suggested Time: 20 minutes

Date first visited: 2004-11-25
Date last visited: 2004-11-25

Waterfall Latitude: -44.72162
Waterfall Longitude: 167.94864

Waterfall Safety and Common Sense

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.

Chasm_Walk_016_11242004 - Looking down at the Cleddau River disappearing into the Chasm
Looking down at the Cleddau River disappearing into the 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.

Doing the Chasm Walk

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.

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.

Chasm_Walk_021_11242004 - A big tour group peering into the depths of the Chasm from the footbridge spanning it
A big tour group peering into the depths of the Chasm from the footbridge spanning it

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 definitely 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.

Chasm_Walk_011_11242004 - Looking upstream at the Cleddau River from the bridge spanning it right above the Chasm
Looking upstream at the Cleddau River from the bridge spanning it right above the Chasm

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.


The Chasm Walk resides in Fiordland National Park near Te Anau in the Fiordland region of South Island, New Zealand. It is administered under the jurisdiction of the Department of Conservation. For information or inquiries about the area as well as current conditions, visit their website.

Chasm_Walk_002_11242004 - Some cliffs and an ephemeral waterfall by the car park for The Chasm
Chasm_Walk_003_11242004 - Julie on the lush nature walk for The Chasm
Chasm_Walk_005_11242004 - Looking down over some waterfall tier that the walk went besides
Chasm_Walk_008_11242004 - Looking towards the bridge with a partial view of the Cleddau River
Chasm_Walk_009_11242004 - Looking upstream from the bridge over the Cleddau River just above The Chasm
Chasm_Walk_018_11242004 - Closer examination of the strange pothole formations above The Chasm

The nearest town of any appreciable size to Fiordland National Park was Te Anau so we’ll describe the driving directions from there.

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 1km 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.

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.

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Tagged with: chasm, milford, fiordland, te anau, southland, southern alps, south island, new zealand, waterfall, cleddau

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Worth doing this short walk! January 26, 2020 11:14 am by Oliver Descoeudres - Definitely worth doing The Chasm - was impressive to see the deep gorge carved by the river. ...Read More

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Johnny Cheng

About Johnny Cheng

Johnny Cheng is the founder of the World of Waterfalls and author of the award-winning A Guide to New Zealand Waterfalls. Over the last 2 decades, he has visited thousands of waterfalls in over 40 countries around the world and nearly 40 states in the USA.
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