The Milford Track
The Milford Track has been described as the finest walk in New Zealand and one of the top 5 treks in the world. That being said, it really is a “walk”. The track is extremely well maintained by the Department of Conservation and could even be done in sneakers although sturdy trekking boots are recommended. Due to the popularity of the track advance booking is required. I booked my spot 8 months in advance however it’s possible to get a spot a couple of weeks in advance if people cancel.
The first day starts with a ferry ride from Te Anau Downs to the starting point of the track. From here it’s a 1.5hr walk to the first hut where you spend the night. The huts are equipped with bunk beds, foam mats, gas cookers, toilets, and running water in the summer season. They are also staffed by DOC rangers. The first day it’s recommended you go slow since the walk is so short. There’s a swimming hole near the first hut but beware that the current in the area where it’s possible to walk across is really strong and it’s possible to lose small children and sandals in it. I lost my left sandal 🙁
The next 2 days are also really easy as you slowly ascend up to Mackinnon Pass. Again, take your time because the sun sets at 10pm and once you reach the next hut there’s not much to do other than read and chat with your fellow trampers. It’s a good idea to bring playing cards and a good book. There are great views from atop Mackinnon Pass to be had but beware that the pass is exposed to the elements and fierce cold winds blow through. There’s a rest hut just below the pass and another one at the bottom. Be sure to do the side trip up to Sutherland Falls, it’s a beautiful 580m waterfall. If it hasn’t rained for a few days it’s possible to cross the runoff stream and go behind the falls.We got very lucky since it didn’t rain at all during our trek.
The last day is a 18km walk to Sandfly Point to catch the ferry to Milford. The track on this last day is pretty much flat and it’s a nice stroll through the forest. If you time it right, you can catch the 2pm ferry to Milford, then get a Milford Sound cruise, then be on the bus back to Te Anau at 5pm. The cruise is a nice way to cap off the trek and features amazing views and free hot coffee and tea. Hot drinks are a welcome amenity after 3 nights in one of the most remote parts of the world. If you’re lucky, it might rain so hard during the trek that you might get airlifted out!
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