Why the Milford Track should be on your Bucket List
With the trappings of modern life and constantly being on high alert and pulled many directions, either at work, home or out socialising, it can be difficult to detach from devices and hold back on engaging with your phone every time you hear it beep.
Escaping to a place where there simply isn’t any reception and hiking among nature in the mountains can be the perfect tonic for the restless.
Recently, we walked the Milford Track in Fiordland, one of New Zealand’s great walks, and yep, it was pretty damn great! The landscape is awe inspiring with mountains, crystal-clear streams, wild waterfalls, alpine flowers, lush green bush and bird life. The different shades of blue, green and turquoise were amazing! I constantly wanted to whip out my camera to capture every postcard moment.
We started with an easy well-maintained track to the first overnight stay. The accommodation on the trek are cabins managed by the Department of Conservation (DOC) by the government. There are thousands of these ‘Doc huts’ throughout the back country of New Zealand with various levels of services depending on how popular the tracks are and where they’re located. Some are as simple as shelters situated next to a stream for water with compost toilets. I had no high expectations, which is probably for the best to avoid disappointment. There were clean flush toilet bathrooms (yay!), gas cooker facilities and bunk beds situated in dorms.
You can opt for a more comfortable option where everything is provided for you (meals, private rooms, showers and guides) so there’s no need to carry anything during the track and costs over $2,000NZD per person. This cushy option is provided through a private trekking company and guests on this tour stay in private lodges about an hour’s walk from the doc huts.
Day two is a gradual climb and a decent six hour walk to the next hut. However it’s the third day where your legs might start to feel it. You face a zigzag climb for two hours, and once you reach the highest point (Mackinnon Pass), you’re rewarded with the most epic views of lakes and valleys.
You may get a few cheeky keas swooping by striking their best pose, so be camera-ready! Along the path, there were also weka birds (which look like a cross between a kiwi bird and a chicken) and cute little robin birds who aren’t shy at all. One gave me such fright when it pecked at the sand flies landing on my shoes. Do not underestimate the sand flies on this track – they are everywhere! Bug spray will be your best friend.
From the highest point, you descend and follow the track for 8km, dropping 970m over rocky and uneven pathways. The constant bracing of your legs can really take a toll. However, adding in a side trip to see the Sutherland Falls is definitely worth it!
My legs were really feeling like jelly now and I was looking forward to getting to the next overnight stay and could tell the other trekkers were feeling the same with their grimacing faces. Cups of tea and instant dehydrated meals never tasted so good after arriving to the hut! We shared our experience with other trekkers and found out many had travelled across the world to tackle this particular trek.
That night, I was looking forward to tucking into my sleeping bag and getting a decent night’s sleep – next minute… thump thump thump! There’s high pitch screeches from outside, claws on the roof and squawking for most of the evening. Those charming keas weren’t charming any of us at 3am in the morning!
The following day, there were definitely some tired and grumpy trekkers from limited sleep. There were five hours to go until reaching the final destination (Sandfly Point) in the beautiful Milford Sound. Woohoo almost there!
Tackling this track was an absolute thrill and an incredible experience. It was good a reminder of what an amazing country we live in and hearing others tell you just how far they’ve travelled to be here, and express how impressed they were with the trek and natural surroundings makes you feel pretty stoked this is all on our NZ doorstep.
Make the most of it, take the time and put the Milford Track on your bucket list.