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Wicked Good Travel Tips / Featured  / Milford Trek – Trip Report of the Finest Walk In The World
16 Aug

Milford Trek – Trip Report of the Finest Walk In The World


Taking On The Milford Trek- Finest Walk In the World
Milford Trek

Dubbed “The Finest Walk in the World,” the Milford Trek is filled with natural attractions that support New Zealand’s reputation as an other-worldly clime, a place of fantastical sights and breathtaking vistas.  Hiking the Milford Trek, or Milford Track as it is sometimes called, was a captivating experience for me and it can hardly fail to impress the most seasoned hikers from around the world.  As one of the country’s best walks, this 33.2 mile (53.5 km) hike does require a stout heart as well as a bit of advanced planning.

A Feast for the Eyes

Milford Trek

My eyes must have grown to twice their size when I glimpsed the visual marvels of this track.  The splendors of rainforests, wetlands, and alpine terrain often stopped me in my tracks—you’ll want to bring a reliable and easy-to-handle camera for your journey as this hike is filled with one marvelous view after another.

Some of the most spectacular sights of this famous hike include the mountainous glacier-studded Mackinnon Pass, the pristine cliffs and fjord of Milford Sound, the breathtaking cascade of Giant Gate Falls, and the nation’s tallest waterfall—Sutherland Falls.  From glacial forests to roaring rivers, the hike is like looking at one postcard after another—only you’re part of the picture!

Milford Trek

Location and Getting There

New Zealand’s South Island is home to Milford Track.  Situated in Fiordland National Park—part of the larger Te Wahipounamu Southwest New Zealand World Heritage Area—the track is typically accessed at Lake Te Anau or Sandfly Point.  Hikers need to kayak over sea or take a ferry to reach Sandfly Point, but the Lake Te Anau entry can be accessed by ferry or a climb across Dore Pass, which is very near Milford Sound Road.  Travelers to New Zealand often travel to Lake Te by bus from Christchurch or fly from Christchurch or Auckland to nearby Queenstown.  However you go, the ideal hiking time is between October and April—hiking off-season can be fraught with dangerous avalanches.

Challenges of the Hike

Milford Trek Bridge

While experienced hikers do not regard this trail as particularly challenging in good weather, there is an age limit—children under ten may not hike the track.  Moreover, the hike typically takes four days to complete—and it must be tackled within that time frame; the park allows a steady flow of people onto the track, so hikers must remain on the move even in rough weather.  Rain, which is a consistent feature of the hike, can pose dangerous conditions that make the terrain far more challenging than when the weather is dry.  Hard rains can erase parts of the trail and even lead to hypothermia during cold spells.  Because an even pace must be maintained along the trail, hikers should come with some level of preparation simply to stay within the time constraints of the journey.

Preparing for Milford

Booking a spot on a guided tour is essential; most people reserve their spot months in advance.  Annually, about 14,000 people hit this trail, but its extreme popularity necessitates reservations.  The park will only allow forty hikers to enter the track each day, so it’s important to secure your place on the route in accordance with your traveling plans in the area.  While many hikers like to tackle the route on their own and make use of the huts along the trail, others prefer the guided tour and its more comfortable huts and gourmet fare.  Independent hikers should plan to bring their own food and sleeping bag; the basic huts only provide a simple stove, bare bunk, and toilet.  I enjoyed the guided tour—more expensive, to be sure, but greatly enhanced by the information (and supervision) provided by the guides.

Milford Trek Waterfall

Wrap-Up

This hike posed some difficulty for me—but the challenges were adventurous in nature.  It rained one of the days and I had to wade through waist-deep water, but since I was on a guided tour, I felt reassured by my guide and his assurance that “this happens quite often.”  On the other hand, I was astounded by the way the trail was maintained; the park’s staff was impressive and utterly pleasant.  Of course, what I remember most about the Milford Trek is its ancient landscape.  Dense forests opening onto sheer cliffs were simply spellbinding and one couldn’t help wondering how the first Maori felt upon witnessing these stunning views.  Enchanting flora, fauna, and scenery, the Milford hike is truly the walk of a lifetime.

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About The Author:  Guest post contributed by Taylor Ritchie, a travel freelance writer, for CoverMore.
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Photo Credits:  Flickr – #1 clobocop, #2 Kevin Staff, #3 tewahpounamu, #4 almassengale, #5 anoldent

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Comment

  • Catherine DeWolf
    October 16, 2012 at 8:53 pm

    Dear Mr. Ritchie:

    I read your review of the magnificent Milford trek that I took many years before. It is a shame that it wasn’t longer as it is truly the closest to Paradise as one can imagine. But imagine this! I was young, no tour guide, and my hip bone dislocated its joint. (I’m not a Doctor but it hurt) Therefore, as everyone journeyed on up a Mountain with snow, through valleys with fields of wildflowers and rainbows glancing off waterfalls: an elderly New Zealander farmer in his 70’s with a rotting hip helped me to the end. He lied! He told me the Sound was just around the corner. It took another day and we painfully got to that perfect star-studded sky with mountains growing into the Universe, disregarding our vision. The balance of nature, careless and secure in its place have no words.

    Still, you wrote well and if I could I would go back again. You are one lucky man to have a job as a travel writer and good on ya!

    Regards,
    Catherine DeWolf

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