8 January 2015
I recently visited New Zealand to walk the Milford Track using a full guided tour organised by Ultimate Hikes. This is a 5 day return trip from Queenstown and I must say I was impressed from every angle.
After a pre-walk briefing where you are given a detailed explanation of the journey ahead and hiking equipment ready for New Zealand’s tramping conditions, you depart for a pleasant bus journey to Te-Anau. After a short lunch break, you jump on a boat that is bringing you to the start of the track and a 20 minutes walk to the first hut, followed by a lovely nature walk for 2 hours (without the burden of carrying the backpack).
All of the huts have 5 star amenities providing large dining and lounge area and includes full dinner, bar, drying room, various books and games, a full briefing of the following day & comfortable bedding. In the morning, an area is set to prepare your luncheon before getting a delicious breakfast and head for the fantastic day ahead.
The second day is a pleasant walk following a charming river, crossing fuchsia tree forest, playing with the local birds such as Fan tail and Robin and enjoying the vista of the sheer wall surrounding the “bullet” valley that you follow. It’s name coming from the numerous avalanche that this area has during winter.
The 3rd day is the most challenging, hiking up the end of the valley to McKinnon pass providing stunning views on both side of the spine, and where a comfortable hut will provide a good rest for lunch. Don’t miss the amazing view from the toilets there ;o) After this, you follow a good trail going down the other side of the pass with stunning views on the pass, waterfall and the Sutherland Falls in the distance. A good area to spot the Kea twirling above your head… After reaching the overnight hut, another 45 minutes walk will bring you to the bottom of the Sutherland Falls, 580m high and the highest of New Zealand.
On the 4th day, this is another very easy and pleasant walk bringing you to the Milford Sound itself. I was luck enough to have 15cm of rain falling on us on that day, which created the most amazing waterfall around us, but also flooded all the waterways that you have to cross on the trail. No chance to keep anything dry and no chance to take any pictures either to protect the camera equipment. Some experience just can’t be photographed, you have to live it!
The last day of the journey doesn’t includes any walk. Wake up with a 2 hours cruise in Milford Sound itself and taking in the immensity of the sight, before a return bus journey to Queenstown for a well deserved massage.
I hope you will enjoy the few images I posted on this blog. Get in touch if you want to know more 🙂