Milford Track | Fiordland, New Zealand

Distance:   54 kme

Average Time:  4 days.

Start / Finish:

  • The walk begins at Glade Wharf on the northern tip of Lake Te Anau and finishes at Sandfly Point on Milford Sound.
  • Check the DOC website for details on getting to and from the trailheads.

Season: Late October to the end of May.

Maps / Info:

  • Due to its popularity, the Milford track is a highly regulated tramp. There is no flexibility in regards to accommodation options, walking direction, or time frames. All reservations, permits, and travel arrangements need to be booked well in advance. With that out of the way………….it’s popular for a reason. Quite simply it is a scenically stunning walk (Note: My 25-year-old photos don’t do it justice!)

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  • Online Information: For anything and everything pertaining to the Northwest Circuit, check the DOC website (i.e. Free downloadable brochure, trail map, trekking notes, logistical details, etc.).
  • Guidebook: The Lonely Planet Hiking & Tramping in New Zealand guidebook has detailed trekking notes and a basic trail map (similar to the one on the DOC website). Also available in Kindle format.
  • GPS: See Traildino for GPX data for the Milford Track.

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  • To hike or not to hike the Milford?: The question that independent trampers need to ask themselves when deciding whether or not to do the Milford trek is: “Am I willing to accept the regimented nature, crowds and relatively high costs in order to experience the incredible natural beauty of this part of Fiordland?” If the answer is no, the Dusky Track offers an equally beautiful, yet substantially more challenging Fiordland option for experienced hikers.
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Sutherland Falls during a heavy storm.

Route / Conditions :

  • As with all designated Great Walks, the Milford Track is well marked and easy to follow from start to finish.
  • Due to the notoriously unpredictable nature of the weather in Fiordland, all trekkers should pack good wet weather gear and sufficient warm clothing.

Milford Track Overview Map (DOC website)

  • Bring along a head net and insect repellent. The sandflies can be ferocious.
  • Tip: If the weather is good on the second day, drop your pack at Mintaro Hut and continue up to Mackinnon Pass. You never know what the following day will bring.  In 1995, I learned this lesson the hard way. I lazed about swimming and reading the entire afternoon, crazily assuming that the fine weather would continue unabated. Sure enough, I awoke the next morning to heavy rain and driving wind. When I arrived at the pass, I could barely see more than fifty feet.

Mackinnon Pass (Wikimedia commons)

Mackinnon Pass (Wikimedia commons)

Sleeping:

  • Huts. With full houses guaranteed, rest assured that there will be at least a few heavy snorers. Don’t forget your earplugs!

Overview:

  • A beautiful tramp, the scenic highlights of which are the views from Mackinnon Pass (so I’ve heard), and an amazing series of waterfalls, the standout of which is Sutherland Falls, the world’s fourth-highest at 580 metres.
  • Would I recommend the Milford Track to independent walkers? All things considered, the answer is “Yes”. The trick is to accept the experience for what it is. If you can do that, then chances are you will have a great time. Just don’t forget the rain jacket, insect repellent and earplugs.
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Sandfly Point, the finish of the Milford Track.