Milford Sound New Zealand

Hiking the Milford Track: Introduction

The Milford Track – claimed to be one of the best walks in the world. So what’s it like? What do you need to bring? And is it really that good? I’m taking on all nine of New Zealand’s great walks and sharing the stories, details and photos here on my blog. And first up is the most famous and highly rated one of all.



DURATION: 4 days (3 nights)
DISTANCE: 33.3 miles (53.5 km)
START POINT: Jetty at Te Anau Downs, about 30km north of Te Anau (where you take a boat to reach the beginning of the track)
END POINT: Milford Sound (a boat will pick you up at the end of the track and take you across the river to Milford Sound itself)
SEASON: Late October to late April. It is possible to walk the track outside of this time, but experience hiking in alpine conditions is needed.
ACCOMMODATION: Basic huts (equipped with stoves and lights on a timer with bunkrooms of various sizes. Separate toilet block with flushing toilets, basins and sometimes mirrors)
PRICE: The huts cost 54 NZD per night, so 162 NZD in total. The two compulsory boat rides to the beginning and from the end will cost approximately another 125 NZD.
ELEVATION: 1100m max, on average approximately 200m. More flat than not.
TERRAIN: Generally a well-formed path with a few rocky areas
DIFFICULTY: Fairly easy. The track is easy to follow, it’s never very steep or treacherous, but an average level of fitness is needed with preferably some experience in hiking
ACCOMMODATION BEFORE/AFTER THE HIKE: There are a variety of places to stay in Te Anau to suit all budgets before you begin. At Milford Sound the Milford Sound Lodge is essentially your only choice, but by no means a bad one. They have a range of rooms available, including backpacker rooms. Some people opt to go straight to Queenstown.
This track fills up quickly so book in advance! If not, you can sometimes take advantage of cancellations



Milford Sound LR
The road leading to Milford Sound



Beautiful Milford Sound, one of the wettest places in the world. Its annual rainfall is around 7000mm, and to put that into perspective London is 600mm!! When it rains, it rains. It’s located almost exactly half way between the equator and the south pole and is part of Fiordland National Park, a wilderness which spreads across 12,500 km². It’s wet, incredibly green, and absolutely stunning.

The hike sees around 14,000 hikers a year. Not that you’d know it whilst walking; you’ll be sharing the track each day with 39 other people and some guided hikers (who spend a hell of a lot more money for exactly the same hike but with more creature comforts and less weight in their backpacks).

I did the hike at the end of March, having booked it in October. This was the earliest date I could book at this time. The lesson to be learnt here is book as early as you can! Bookings for this walk between October 2016 – May 2017 have already reopened, so to avoid disappointment get in there fairly quick.

Te Anau is the best place to stay before you head off. It’s a good place to stock up (there’s a big supermarket and a comprehensive outdoor shop) and get a final indulgent meal before you spend the next four days on freeze-dry food and instant noodles. There’s a bus that can take you to the ferry (around 30 minutes) which then takes you to the hike’s starting point… then let the adventure begin…
Click on the links below to find out more about the Milford Track:

Milford Sound Day 1: Into the wilderness

Milford Sound Day 2: The difference an hour makes
Milford Sound Day 3: The edge of the world
Milford Sound Day 4: Going the distance

WHAT TO EXPECT: The good, the bad, the ugly

WHAT TO BRING: Food, Clothes, and everything else

COMPARISONS [coming later!]



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