Tramping the Milford Track, in Fiordland National Park, New Zeeland is an awesome experience. It offers stunning vistas, alpine mountains with rushing rivers and waterfalls, rain forests culminating with postcard picture of Mitre Peak.
This was a guided trip with Ultimate Hikes, New zeeland tramping company. The Ultimate Hikes professionally takes care of everything and makes the trip a great experience. You only carry a day pack, you have all the meals prepared, three-course meals, a glass of wine or more at the lodges and most important of all, you have access to washing and drying rooms.
The Ultimate Hikes website: https://www.ultimatehikes.co.nz
The Milford Track is walked only in one direction and takes 5 days.
Day 1 Glade Wharf to Glade House
From Queenstown, you travel by coach to Te Anau Downs where you board for the cruise to the head of Lake Te Anau. After a picturesque ride you arrive at Glade Wharf. The adventure starts here. After the mandatory photo at the trail head, you are on an easy short walk to Glade House. The walking distance is of 1.6 km.
Day 2 Glade House to Pompolona Lodge
The walking distance is 16 km. After crossing Clinton River on the suspension bridge, the track leads into the Beech forest and follows the river for most of the day.
Not far down from the site of Quintin Mackinnon’s first site, is a circular sidetrack to Wetland walk. It is worth a detour on the side track for 15 minutes to admire the unique vegetation.
Returning to the main track, there is a gradual climb to the base of Mackinnon Pass which can be seen past Hirere Falls. At Hirere Falls is an ideal spot for lunch. A little further you pass the Hidden Lake and soon after the 16 km, you will reach Pompolona Lodge. Walking at your own pace, enjoying the scenery, you arrive in 5 to 6 hours to Pompolona Lodge, a luxury lodge provided with washing and drying facility. Pompolona Lodge was named after the scones that Quintin Mackinnon made from mutton fat candles. After a pleasant walk you can enjoy a nice hot shower, 3 course meal and of course scones with jam and cream.
Day 3 Pompolona Lodge to Quintin Lodge via Mackinnon Pass
This is the most challenging part of the Milford Track. The distance is 15 km and takes about 6 to 8 hours. An early start is advisable especially if the weather is rainy or windy. The trail passes by a small lake The Mirror, before climbing the Practice Hill, leading to Lake Mintaro. The trail zigzags your way up but caution needs to be taken as the trail can be slippery. The track is of majestic beauty with numerous waterfalls, streams and tarns. Once you reach the top the effort is worthwhile. A short stop at the Mackinnon Memorial built in 1912 in the honor of Mackinnon and Mitchell who pioneered the route in 1888.
From here is more climbing to the Mackinnon Pass Hut which is the highest point at altitude 1154 m. After refueling and rehydrating at the Pass Hut you start the downhill section to Quintin Lodge. The Roaring Burn borders the path and after passing the Roaring Burn swing bridge you will soon reach Quintin Lodge. Whilst at Quintin Lodge is worthwhile to take the 1.5 hours return walk to Sutherland Falls. The Sutherland Falls are the world’s fifth highest waterfall at 580 m.
Day 4 Quintin Lodge to Sandfly Point
Distance of the track is 21 km and will take about 6 to 8 hours. The walk is mostly flat with some undulations. You walk down the Arthur Valley to historic Boatshed. After crossing the Arthur River by the swing bridge, you reach the stunning Mackay Falls and Bell Rock. Bell Rock was carved out of the river during a particularly violent flood. You can stay in the hollow bolder.
After lunch at Giant’s Gate waterfall, the final stretch of track follows tranquil Lake Ada to Sandfly Point the 33.5 mile point and the end of the journey.
From Sandfly point, it is a short ferry trip to the renowned Mitre Peak Lodge, the only accommodation at Milford Sound offering superb views over the Mitre Peak.
Day 5 Milford Sound Cruise
Next day you enjoy the magical cruise on Milford Sound, watching for the dolphins and fur seals and the Fiordland in its entire splendor.