The Milford Track
by Pamela Blalock
with (most) photos by John Bayley
Sometime in late October we tried to book The
Milford Track. The earliest date we could get was the end of March.
Not knowing what we might be doing then, we just decided to book it
anyway and make plans accordingly. Well, we couldn't have picked a better
date. We had three spectacularly sunny days with great views all along
the way. Once we'd completed the track, we had torrential rain and gale force winds
to make the waterfalls in Milford Sound all the more impressive.
The boat trip from Te Anau Downs to the start of the track
Glade House is the first overnight hut for guided walkers. Guided walkers can pay as much as $2100 per person to get a double or twin room with ensuite (and hot showers). The cheap rooms (4 share) are only $1700 per person. The guided huts have electricity (generated on the spot). Beds come complete with duvets. Shampoo, soap and towels are provided. All meals are prepared (bacon and eggs for breakfast, three course dinners). Beer and wine is available for sale. Packed lunches are provided each morning. The poor guided walker must carry his or her own lunch and rain gear in a day back (which is provided). There are additional guided huts for lunch breaks as well - these are also heated. But the poor guided walkers do have to swat their own sandflies ! I must admit being a teensy bit envious as we walked past this first hut and I could see the ensuite rooms with double beds, but then I reminded myself I was backpacking for a reason, and roughing it is part of the appeal. Besides our huts fees at $105 per person were a bit more keeping in the budget.
The first of many swing bridges on the route.
At least my memory of clear sunny skies is backed up by these photos!
We arrived at Clinton Hut, the first hut for independent walkers after about 5 km. To be fair, if I hadn't seen the plush guided huts, I wouldn't really consider these huts as roughing it. Each of the bunroom buildings has about 20 bunks. Most huts on lesser walks tend to have one or two big platforms with mattresses, so you are sleeping next to strangers. These truly were individual bunks and had lots of space for spreading out gear. The kitchen hut had lots of cookers and sinks, a lovely warm stove for heat, and screens to keep the bloodsucking sandflies outside. The toilets were in another building some distance from the main buildings. (and of course did not have hot water or showers.)
Enough of this walking stuff. Jump straight to the
South Island Bike Tour
Franz Josef Glacier