A Milford Sound Walk: The Chasm

Scratch, scratch, scratch… Squeeeeeke! No, that’s not Robin’s morning wakeup call, but that’s a kea on our campervan roof trying to tear it apart! These cheeky alpine parrots are everywhere on a sunny day in Milford Sound, which must mean… It’s stopped raining! We’ve done our cruise in the blistering winds, kayaked away from rainclouds, and now, finally, we have a window of opportunity to go for a quick walk before the weather is forecast to be stormy again. Go, go, go!

The Milford Road Transformed

We pull out of our Milford Sound Lodge powersite and head up the Milford Road towards The Chasm. This is a super quick and popular walk along the Milford Road, not only because it’s extremely accessible but because it leads to a pretty impressive sight.

Before we get to all that, just the drive to The Chasm is stunning and completely different now that the mountains are basked in sunlight rather than clouds and waterfalls like we saw on the way into Milford.

The enchanting rainforest

It’s not long before we are at The Chasm walk entrance. Information boards stand at the beginning of the walk about the flora and fauna on this walk (including those pesky keas). Then we walk into this enchanting rainforest!

Mosses hang onto every surface and ferns fill the forest floor with hundreds of perfectly spirally koru. We cross over a couple of short bridges leading over delicate cascading streams – a bit of a contrast for what we are about to see…

Morning has broken over Milford Sound Morning has broken over Milford Sound
Home is where you park it... and our backyard is pretty stunning. Home is where you park it... and our backyard is pretty stunning.
Walking the easy Chasm walk Walking the easy Chasm walk
Not the chasm... but a pretty stream nonetheless! Not the chasm... but a pretty stream nonetheless!

The most important decision of the day

We continue on the walk until the track splits off into two. Which do we go, left or right? Well, it doesn’t matter because it’s a loop and only a 20-minute walk so it isn’t the most adventurous decision of our lives… But we just thought we’d spice that junction up a little…

We take left, (in case you are interested) and hear the sound of gushing and roaring water. We must be close.

Welcome to The Chasm

A long bridge stretches across The Chasm – a deep canyon-type formation with smooth rock faces and potholes. This has been created by the hard rock washed down the mountains by flood water in the Cleddau River (a common occurrence in Fiordland National Park). Stones and pebbles swirl into this lower land softer rock to dig out holes and this whopping great chasm! (This loose explanation is brought to you by the memory of the information board at the end of the bridge).

Look down at the chasmy depths below!

The Chasm show

There’s so much to see below this bridge: waterfalls, potholes left with pebbles that carved it at the bottom, vegetation trying to grow in proximity to the waterfall but being blown around due to the wind created by the falls, and there are two huge tree trunks that have got themselves stuck in a pothole, so they are sticking up into the air. This is one powerful chasm.

Chasm-capturing issues

As this is one of the most popular walks along the Milford Road, tourists do come in bus loads, trying to take photos of the chasm. However, it proves pretty challenging to translate its awesomeness onto photos. It’s a place which captures a mix of senses: the noise, the depth perception, and the force of the spray.

Just when we think we have seen it all, we continue on the loop walk to another bridge where the chasm continues into a deeper gorge below. It’s such a deep and dark canyon that it looks like it has completely split the rainforest in half.

Peering down at the impressive force of The Chasm Peering down at the impressive force of The Chasm
Walking through boulder central Walking through boulder central
A lonely pothole A lonely pothole

The rain is coming

From there, we are continuing on the loop walk out of the forest and back into the bits of sunlight that hang onto the mountain tops. Looking out towards Milford Sound though, we can see big rainclouds coming.

With that, we haul our asses out of The Chasm and head back to Milford Sound Lodge to place the buckets under the leaks in our campervan and catch up on some more work. At least we can say that the rain makes you super productive!

Updates from the Drying Room

We are still drying our hiking shoes and clothes from the last couple of days of dunking ourselves under Stirling Falls, once with the cruise and once in a kayak. Because people are expected to get wet in Milford Sound, there is even a designated “Drying Room” at the Milford Sound Lodge complete with newspaper to put in your shoes, fans and a heater.

Tomorrow is probably going to be another weather-dodging day. We are going to do some of the hikes around Milford Sound itself to show you guys the free things to do at Milford Sound. Join us then!

Laura and Robin

the rainforest split in two by the chasm!
the rainforest split in two by the chasm! Spherical Image - RICOH THETA

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