Milford Track

Trail specs

Distance (mi.) Stages Elevation Gain (ft) Best Time Difficulty



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Trail description

The Milford Track is one of the nine so-called “Great Walks” of New Zealand. And that’s not bad at all. Because in order to be able to make it into a “Great Walk”, the trail has to meet many conditions. For example, the paths must be easy to cross, the route has to be waymarked clearly and the landscape should be of an indescribable kind of beauty. Enough ingredients to make the Milford Track a true “top trail”. The adventure already begins before you even take your very first step. Because to get to the starting point of the route, you have to make a boat trip of more than an hour.

Photo by Kiwi Discovery

On the Milford Track you will find three cabins where you can spend the night. Camping along the route is not allowed. The cabins are equipped with the necessary basic comfort: a dormitory with bunk beds, a gas stove, cold running water, a few tables and some chairs. Do not count on a hot shower. When you plan the route in the “Great Walks” season (November to April) you have to book your bed in advance. During that time there is often a ranger present who can assist you with all necessary advice.

Photo by Jocelyn Kinghorn

If you want to hike the Milford Track out the “Great Walks” season (May to October), you have to take into account the fact that certain bridges will not be accessible. In addition, there is an increased avalanche danger and you also have to contend with a greater risk of flooding. An advantage is that the cabins do not have to be booked in advance. In this case the principle “first come, first served” applies. Out of season you will have to bring your own gas burner, because there is no fuel present in the cabins. The running water is also shut off. With a bit of luck you can take some water from the water tank outside the hut, if it is not frozen. Otherwise you are dependent on melting snow.

Photo by Brent Daily

Let yourself be surprised by the impressive Sutherland Falls along the way. With an altitude of 580 meters (1900 ft)it can call itself the third highest waterfall in the world. But do not be too distracted when you take up all this natural beauty, otherwise the kea will take off with the contents of your backpack. The kea is a protected mountain parrot, which is not easily intimidated. In his search for food he has got the most unexpected tricks up his, … uhm feathers.

Photo by Michael Harsch

The climb to the panoramic MacKinnon Pass takes you to the highest point of the route: 1154m (3786ft). The pass is named after the person who discovered it, somewhere at the end of the 19th century. Quintin MacKinnon was given the task of finding a route for tourists to take them from Lake Te Anau to Milford Sound. That job was easier said than done. For months he exposed himself to the extremes of the New Zealand mountain landscape. When he finally discovered this accessible mountain pass after a long search, the Milford Track was born. We can today say that MacKinnon is the spiritual father of the Milford Track. A monument at the top of the pass will forever honor him for this.

And indeed, we must honor this good old man. Because we should consider ourselves very happy with a beautiful trail like this. With its minimal distance it is a trip that will ensure maximum pleasure.

More information

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