Milford Track Walk, New Zealand

Milford Track Walk

Milford Track is one of the nine great walks in New Zealand and touted by many as one of the most beautiful walks in the world. It is a 4 day tramp (Kiwi language for hike) through green forests, still lakes and beautiful alpine scenery.

Day 1 – Glade Wharf to Clinton Hut

Time: 1-1.5hr
Distance: 5km

We had an early morning start from Queenstown, catching the 6:55am bus to Te Anau Visitor Centre to pick up our tickets booked at the Department of Conservation (DOC), which includes ticket stubs for the ferry, hut accommodation and bus ride. We caught the 10:30am ferry at Te Anau Downs to the starting point at Glade Wharf.

Boat from Teanu Downs to start of the Milford Track

Walking to our ferry, taken at Te Anau Downs

Excitement ensued as we got off the ferry at Glade Wharf. We were instructed to dip our shoes in soapy buckets of water. This was to prevent the spread of Didymosphenia geminata, commonly referred to as rock snot. Rock snot, which pretty much looks like the name describes, poses a threat to insects, and as a consequence the food source of fish.

As we prepared to begin our 5km trek for the day, sand-flies were already swarming us. Strong insect repellent, ones that contain DEET, is definitely recommended for Milford Track.

Milford Track Walk - Day 1

Jackson walking through beautiful forest

Milford track, bridge crossing

Passing the bridge crossing near Glade House, accommodation for guided walkers

The first day is an easy 1.5hr walk to Clinton Hut with flat ground through beech forest.

We arrive before lunch time and grab some bunk beds. It becomes a common theme to try to get to the hut before the majority of the group so that we have first pick of the beds (there are a maximum of 40 independent hikers that start the Milford track each day, and during the high season it is usually fully booked out).

At 4:30pm the ranger, that had an uncanny resemblance to Gandolf the Grey, came to visit and took us on a nature walk around the surrounding area. He pointed out interesting flora, such as a carnivorous plant that ate sand flies (awesome!), leaves that could be used as a pepper seasoning alternative, lichen that have been around since the prehistoric age and much more.

After the walk we prepared dinner, an unsatisfying dehydrated meal of nasi goreng. At 8pm the ranger came by the common area and talked about what to expect over the next few days and also information about local flora and fauna. After a few hands at cards, we settled in for the night, in anticipation for the next day.

Clinton Hut, Milford track

helicopter pad at Clinton Hut, Milford Track

Photos taken at the helicopter pad at Clinton hut of our surrounds

Clinton Hut Facilities – Milford Track Accommodation for day 1

I couldn’t really find much information about the huts online, so thought this may help future Milford Track trampers.

  • There were two dorms at Clinton Hut with 20 beds in each
  • Bunk beds have mattresses
  • Clinton hut has kitchen facilities, in the high season they provide stoves (approx 6 stoves, it was pretty easy sharing with other people so it is not necessary to bring your own stove)
  • They also had cleaning supplies e.g. detergent and sponge (however, this is not available at every hut)
  • Water from the taps is drinkable, although I treated my water throughout the trek with tablets anyway
  • All huts have toilets and toilet paper

Day 2 – Clinton Hut to Mintaro Hut

Time: 6hr
Distance: 16.5km

Milford Track

Photo taken at the helicopter pad at Clinton hut in the early morning

The early morning December air was crisp but we warmed up soon enough. The first half of the day’s walk was mostly through shaded forest alongside Clinton River. The purity and clarity of the water was astounding. Rangers would later tell us that you can drink from any of the running steams.

Milford Track valley

As we progressed through the forest, the view would open up to a wide valley with mountains on either side. We took a side trip to Hidden Lake where saw, what we assumed to be, the endangered blue ducks swimming, the ranger made a point last night that that was one of the areas to spot them.

Hidden Lake - Milford Track

Hidden Lake

We hopped from rock to rock through avalanche areas and soon after we arrived at a beautiful meadow filled with pretty yellow flowers.

Milford Track - meadow

Milford Track to Mintaro Hut

It was an uphill climb to get to Mintaro hut with many stairs (that seemed never-ending) through green forest.

At Mintaro Hut you can spot Kea parrots that are endangered and unique to New Zealand. They are considered one of the most intelligent birds. Kea will often put on a show to distract you while its friends raid your pack!

We had to hang our hiking boots and poles on hooks at Mintaro as Kea have been known to steal and or destroy equipment that have been left outside. Our ranger noted that the curious teenage Kea visit Mintaro hut at around 8pm and also in the early morning.

At around 6pm we gathered around the communal area for the ranger briefing. She talked about what to expect the next day and general housekeeping information.

We all settled in early that night, in anticipation for the long journey ahead the next day.

Tips for the Milford Track

  • If you’re flying into New Zealand from another country, make sure to wash all your hiking gear beforehand (e.g. boots, trek poles). Hiking equipment that has soil attached may result in fines (if not declared) or possible confiscation
  • We booked our bus ride from Queenstown to Te Anau through TrackNet
  • All other bookings (hut accommodation, ferry, and return bus ride from Milford Sound to Queenstown) was through DOC
  • We booked in March 2015 (9 months well in advance) and the majority of the tickets were booked already – book early to avoid disappointment!
  • Make sure to bring a lighter or matches if using the supplied stoves

 

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