Date: 02 November 2012
Rockfall onto the Sutherland Falls Track
The Great Walks Milford Track is still open and offering opportunities for walkers to view Fiordland’s unique splendour, despite the closure of a side trip, the Sutherland Falls Track, due to a rock fall hazard.
A heavy rain event late October triggered a significant rock fall over the Sutherland Falls Track. The track was immediately closed by the Department of Conservation, and a geological specialist has been in to view the site. Two large rocks high above the track are deemed unstable, and DOC has been advised to close the side-trip track for the immediate future.
Department of Conservation’s Ross Kerr, who visited the rock fall site, said ‘visitors can not access the base of the falls, but it can still be viewed from the Milford Track, which is unaffected by the rock fall. Movement of the rocks will be monitored and DOC will re open the Sutherland Falls Track once it is safe to do so’.
The Milford Track is well known for its impressive scenery, and heavy rain events like this help supply the hundreds of spectacular waterfalls gushing down the valley sides. Walking through this area offers an opportunity for observant visitors to catch rare sightings of the endangered whio/blue duck. The whio is a unique native duck with no close relatives anywhere in the world and is specially evolved to live in the clean, fast flowing rapids of New Zealand streams and rivers.
While weather events in the area can provide a challenge for DOC, who work hard to maintain safe and appropriate access for the public, they are also what make the area so special, so worth visiting, and so worth protecting.