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New Zealand hikesNew Zealand Milford Track

New Zealanders and overseas visitors have turned to unspoiled hills, forests and coasts of our magnificent New Zealand landscape in search of physical recreation and spiritual solace. Milford track is one of the safest tracks to be found in New Zealand's remote back country, free from river crossings, well marked and well provided with huts. It may be sensibly tackled by the inexperienced provided that their party includes one or two seasoned trampers or hikers. So go to it, embark on the discovery of our unequalled New Zealand natural landscape.

Discover Milford Track, one of Fiordland National parks top destinations for tramping and hiking track adventures - the Milford Track, , finest walk ,Te Anau, New Zealand.

 
General Information

Milford Track is located in the south-west of the South Island.  Milford Track starts at the head of Lake Te Anau and finishes in Milford Sound.  Te Anau, the nearest township, has a full range of accommodation, shopping and hire services. The rewards of walking the Milford Track are many. Milford Track,once described as the finest walk in the world, the Milford Track is one of New Zealand’s most popular walks, with approximately 14,000 people completing the track each year.  

During the booked walking season (late October to late April), a maximum of 40 independent walkers are permitted to start the track each day.  The track may only be walked in one direction, Glade Wharf to Milford Sound.  Booking is essential to guarantee your hut accommodation during this time.

Milford Track Walkers can expect:

  • parts of the track to have a rough or uneven walking surface
  • to walk through flood water up to a metre deep after or during heavy rain
  • to cross unbridged streams
  • to get wet and muddy boots – it’s part of the Milford Track experience

All natives birds and flora are protected; plants must not be removed and domestic animals, such as dogs, are prohibited. All mammals (except bats) are introduced, noxious and fair game but hunting of these (e.g. red deer) is not allowed except by permit (consult park rangers). It is the responsibility of every traveller to see that the environment remains undamaged and unpolluted and is preserved as nearly as possible in its natural state. Information about Fiordland National Park may be obtained from the official park handbooks, available at Government bookshops and all major booksellers.

Nearest Fiordland National park station to the Milford Track is the visitor centre at Fiordland National Park Visitor Centre, Lakefront Drive, Te Anau Information and advice about travelling in the parks are freely available.

During the Milford Track season ( late October to mid April ) national park wardens are in attendance at all huts to give advice and provide park interpretation. Huts are linked by radio so that wardens may monitor the movement of track walkers. Even so, for safety's sake, you must ensure that you register your group's names and intentions in national park hut books along the track.

 
Facts
One Way  
Time 3 nights - 4 days
From Glade Wharf, Lake Te Anau
To Sandfly Point, Milford Sound
Distance 4 days , 53.5km
Huts 3 Great Walks Huts
Grade Easy
Highest Point
1073m
Maps Map 260 D40 / C40 Milford
Map 260 D41 Eglinton
 
Features
  • Deep cut glacial valleys and impressive mountain views
  • Alpine pass and tarns
  • Dense beech forest.
  • Sutherland Falls - third highest in the world (580m in 3 leaps)
  • Launch Trips on Lake Te Anau and Milford Sound
  • Well-graded track
  • Three huts, five shelters
  • Excellent transport to and from both track ends
 

Milford Track is one of the most popular tramps or hikes in New Zealand. Milford Track is the most famous track in New Zealand. It is a true alpine walk - deep valleys bracketed by bluffs, waterfalls opening on to steep tussock tops giving dramatic views of the Mountains. A remarkable feat of track engineering, it penetrates the sheer walls of the Fiordland Mountains and opens up vistas of alpine tops, waterfalls, lakes, and bush-carpeted valleys. The Milford Track is touted as the Finest Walk in the World. However, there is a down side. The track is highly regulated ( see notes below), the sandflies can be murder, you must learn to enjoy huts crowded with people, and the weather can be atrocious. Tourist operators have learned to say, when the rain comes down, 'Ahh, but it makes the waterfalls magnificent'. It does, but it does not do much for the views.

Milford track is well graded, of course, but rougher underfoot than you would expect. Slips and washouts can create awkard muddy or rocky sections and the Department of Conservation has a constant struggle to maintain the track. Milford Track really is wilderness country, with wilderness weather, impressive, bloody-minded and raw. Take a good raincoat and don't expect an easy country ramble and you will have a satisfying and memorable tramp. Huts are large and comfortable with wardens on duty through the peak summer months.

 
Access and Bookings

Walking the Milford track requires either bus or private transport to Te Anau Downs, then boat transport to Glade Wharf. Boat transport is also required from Sandfly Point (the end of the track) to Milford Sound.  There is no cellphone coverage in the area.

Milford track can only be walked from Te Anau Downs, Glade House to Sandfly Point. All walkers/ trampers have to book, either at a Government Tourist Bureau ( Department of Conservation) or direct with the Tourist Hotel Corporation (THC), PO Box 185, Te Anau. For many freedom walkers its easier to buy a total transport package at the same time as paying for the booking fee. Various bus companies operate a scheduled daily service along the Milford Sound Road during the season. You can also fly by float plane direct from Te Anau to Glade Wharf.

 
 
Out -Of-Season-Trampers
Milford Track season is from late October to mid April. Milford Track can be tramped during the winter months if you can arrange launch transport ( liable to be expensive). However, the Milford Track winter option is strictly for trampers and mountaineers once the snow arrives. MacKinnon Pass can require ice-axes and crampons in winter, and anyone inexperienced or ill-equipped should not attempt it. Dore pass offers alternative access to Milford Track from the Milford Sound round. It must be stressed that this is an exposed alpine pass, very steep in places, and only strong experienced parties should attempt the route. Basically there are no easy alternative approaches to the Milford Track.
 
Track Transport

Milford Track is well served by track transport, with several bus companies. Track transport costs are included in the booking fees for freedom and guided walkers. This includes booking fees, two launch trips, three hut nights and bus fares from Te Anau to Te Anau Downs and Milford Sound back to Te Anau.

Walkers need to arrange transport connections before they pick up their accommodation passes or tickets from the Fiordland National Park Visitor Centre in Te Anau. Bus and boat companies depart daily during the booked walking season, servicing both ends of the track. The transport operators listed on the booking form are guaranteed to depart daily.
Alternative transport options can be booked directly with the operator.

There are no regular transport services outside the Great Walks booked walking season. It is recommended that walkers have their transport booked at least one week in advance, as there are limited places on some services. During the booked walking season travel arrangements can be made via the Great Walks Booking Desk along with your hut bookings.

 
Local Services
Te Anau can provide all equipment hire, food and accomodation ranging from backpackers ' hostels to expensive hotels. Accommodation is getting quite competitive. At Milford Sound there is a Department of Conservation lodge (Milford Lodge). This lodge should be booked in advance if you intend to spend a night at Milford Sound when you finish the track
 
Huts and Camping

There are three Department of Conservation huts on the track; Clinton, Mintaro and Dumpling. During the booked season huts are supplied with gas cookers, tables, benches, cold running water, lighting and heating in the main kitchen/dining hut.  Camping is not permitted on the track, there are very few places where you can camp. There are private huts, the property of Guided Walk operators.

Bunkrooms have  communal sleeping arrangements with mattresses provided. Ablution blocks have flush toilets and wash basins (cold water only). There are no showers in the huts. Walkers are expected to leave the accommodation clean and tidy and take their rubbish out with them.

Milford Track staff are stationed at each site. They are equipped with radios for use in emergencies and for weather forecasts.  For your own safety please sign the hut books on your arrival. 
Camping or staying overnight in the shelters is not permitted on the Milford Track.
Facilities for guided walkers are not available to independent walkers.

 
Weather and Season
Milford Track lies within a mountain environment. Fiordland National Park has high rainfall and changeable weather. Unpredictable weather patterns mean that cold temperatures, snow, strong  winds and heavy rain, which can cause temporary surface flooding on the track, can occur at any time of the year. Be prepared for at least one wet day on your trip. Remember, exposure/ hypothermia can affect anyone when the weather is wet, cold and windy and hypothermia can kill.  Correct clothing is essential.  Please check current conditions before departing on your trip. Prevailing winds are north-west and south-west; heavy rainfall is common and snow may fall down to 1000m at almost any time of the year.
 
Clothing and Equipment

Milford Track Walkers must take adequately warm clothing. In fine weather, shorts and a light shirt may be worn but long trousers, a warm shirt and woollen sweater essential for cold conditions. A waterproof parka is also essential. Boots must be worn and these must be properly broken in. A comfortable pack and warm sleeping bag are essential: there is no bedding in the huts.

All food and all utensils must be carried. Gas rings and fuel are provided in huts during the season. Each hut also has a stove for heating and drying. No fires are allowed outside approved fireplaces. Remember to remove all rubbish which you are unable to burn - pack out what you pack in - in the rubbish bags provided.

You will need at least one set of clothes to walk in, and another dry set to change into at night. It is not possible to dry clothes in the huts. It is essential that this clothing is carried as your safety and the safety of others could well depend on it. Please Note: cotton clothing such as jeans, T-shirts and sweatshirts is not suitable. Polypropylene, which is quick drying, is recommended.

Warning: synthetic clothing is flammable.

  • Boots: need to be comfortable and well broken in
  • Socks: (wool/polypropylene) 2 pairs
  • Shorts: (cotton/ nylon)
  • Shirt: (wool/polypropylene)
  • Longjohns/trousers: (wool/polypropylene)
  • Jersey/Jacket: (wool/polar fleece)
  • Undershirts/T shirt: (wool/polypropylene)
  • Mittens/Gloves: (wool/polypropylene)
  • Raincoat: (waterproof, windproof with hood)
  • Woollen hat/balaclava and sunhat. Extra socks, underwear, shirt or lightweight jersey (warning, synthetic clothing is flammable).

Personal Equipment

  • Pack: with large waterproof/plastic liner 
  • Sleeping bag: good quality down or hollofil
  • Matches/ lighter: in waterproof container
  • Torch: spare batteries
  • Eating utensils: knife, fork, spoon, plate, cup
  • Cooking utensils: pot/pan/billy, pot scrubber
  • Toilet gear: soap, toothpaste, toilet paper, small towel (do not wash or use soap in lakes or streams)
  • First Aid Kit: insect repellent, sunscreen, blister kits, pain relief, assorted bandages
  • Survival Kit: survival blanket, whistle, paper, pencil, spare days food
  • Drink bottle: (you need to drink regularly during the day) 
  • Optional extras: sunglasses, camera, lightweight shoes for in hut, ear plugs for communal bunkrooms (you will be sharing huts with up to forty other trampers)

 

 
Fitness and Preparation

It is important to ensure that you are physically fit. If you are not preoccupied with blistered feet or sore muscles then not only will you cover the ground more quickly and safely, but you will have more time and opportunity to appreciate the scenery and natural features that you have made so much effort to reach! So - break in those boots, make sure your clothing and gear are comfortable and adequate, plan your food requirements, and undertake several training tramps or hikes of increasing length and difficulty. There's only one way to get fit for tramping - and that's tramping.

Before you leave home, inform relatives or friends of your intentations and dates of travel and put your names and plans in the log books along the way. This will make your location easier should you suffer any mishap. On the track, keep your party together at all times; reduces the chance of a member getting lost or having an accident. Remember - the pace of your party is that of its slowest member.

 
Approach to Walking

Don't rush and don't loiter. Keep up a good, steady pace and don't indulge in too many rest stops - it's surprising how the time gets away from you. And rests should not be too long, otherwise you may stiffen up and lose your rhythm. Don't hang around if its wet and cold - keep body heat up. Start out early each day, so that you're always time in hand.

Keep your party together at all times; this reduces the chance of a member getting lost or having an accident. Remember the golden rule - the pace of the party is that of its slowest member.
 
Guided or Freedom Walks
Because of its popularity the Milford is a regulated track. YOu must take the three nights /four days and do not have the option of waiting for improved views if the weather is poor. You do have two economic options: the guided walkers have all their gear ( apart from parka and lunch) carried, whereas the so-called 'freedom walkers 'carry all their own gear ( sleeping bag,food,utensils, and so so on) and pay much less. The guided walks cost approximately $1100+++. The standard package price for freedom walkers from Te Anau back to Te Anau is approximately $150++. This includes booking fees, two launch trips, three hut nights and bus fares from Te Anau to Te Anau Downs and Milford Sound back to Te Anau. Not bad value for money really, since a lot of those costs would be obligatory anyway.
 
Warning

Although the Milford Track is a well-graded, well marked, well hutted and well used track, it must not be undertaken lightly. People on the Milford Track do underestimate the weather conditions. Your group must be fit and well prepared. Make a conservative estimate of your capabilities and needs, plan well, and by the time you reach the Milford Track you'll have no worries. Bad weather will easily delay you and it is sensible to have a day in hand - especially if you want to enjoy the view. Milford Track varies between an easy country walk and a standard tramping or hiking trail. Although always well graded, it can be stony and rough underfoot.

 
More>> Milford Track Photos & DOC Milford Track BrochureDOC Milford Track Brochure
 
Distances Tracks / Times

Milford track is described as "the finest walk in the world", the track extends for 54 kilometres from the northern end of Lake Te Anau, to Sandfly Point near Milford Sound. It is renowned for its glacially carved valleys, alpine flowers and waterfalls.

But observation of one's surroundings is reduced in direct proportion to the speed of travel and, one might add, the weight of one's load. Most Routeburn Walkers will want to take their time - for comfort's sake and to take in to the full attraction of the natural environment.

Location
Distance
Times
Lake Wharf to Clinton Forks Hut
7 km
2 - 2.5 hours
Clinton Forks Hut to Mintaro Hut
13 km
3.5 - 4 hrs
Mintaro Hut via Mackinnon Pass to Dumpling Hut
13 km
6 hrs
Dumpling Hut to Sandfly Point
18 km
5.5 - 6 hrs
Related
 

Further Information

Department of Conservation

Fiordland National Park Visitor Centre, Lakefront Drive, Te Anau
Phone: (03) 249 8514 or (03) 249 7924
Email: greatwalksbooking@doc.govt.nz or fiordlandvc@doc.govt.nz
Web: www.doc.govt.nz

 

 
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