Hiking Milford Track in New Zealand
Covering a distance of 53.5 kilometers in five days and four nights, Milford Track has been a popular hiking trail for a hundred years. Located in Fiordland National Park in the southwest of New Zealand's South Island, the track was originally used by the native Māori people for transporting pounamu, valuable rocks generally referred to locally as "greenstone". It was New Zealand tour guide and explorer Quintin McKinnon who brought this beautiful part of the country to the attention of adventurous hikers by conducting guided tours along Milford Track. Parts of the track have been named in his honor, including the highest point, MacKinnon Pass.
The first two days of the route, which is walked from south to north, climb uphill until hikers reach MacKinnon Pass at 1069 meters. While this calls for some serious endurance, the view from the top is well worthwhile. Looking back south, hikers will have a view of the spectacular Clinton Valley, while Arthur Valley and Milford Sound lie to the north – a hint of the splendor to come. Further along Milford Track is the 580 meter Sutherland Falls, gushing down three steps with its source being glacier-fed Lake Quill. With a world waterfall database rating of 35/35 for grandeur, and 95/100 for its scenic value, Sutherland Falls is an awe-inspiring sight. Other falls along the way are Dudleigh Falls and Hirere Falls, each with their own unique beauty.
With no industry or agriculture in the area, the small settlement of Milford Sound exists purely for the tourism trade. The journey to Milford sound, either from Queenstown or Te Anau, offers spectacular scenery all along the way as it skirts Lake Te Anau. Boat cruises are a great way to see the area, and kayaking is also a popular choice. There is also an underwater observatory from which visitors can view eleven-legged sea stars, anemones and black coral.
In a land of incredible beauty and diversity, Milford Track is considered to be New Zealand's most famous, and most worthwhile, walk. If you have the good fortune of spending some time in this part of the country, taking a hike along Milford Track will leave you with some amazing memories.