Milford Track Journal

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Milford Track Journal

Postby bigkev » Sat 14 Nov, 2015 8:00 pm

I've been sitting on this trip report for almost a year, I'm still not sure whether to post it on the forum. The dilemma in my head is that the tramp maybe isn't 'hardcore' enough for the forum, I'd been over in NZ doing a few other walks and my wife flew over to spend Christmas and New Year with me so I decided to take her on a guided walk.

Sam had done the tramp with me almost ten years ago so I knew that she could do it, and I also knew that the company that runs the guided walks provided an enjoyable experience for a lot of punters who maybe don't consider themselves full on walkers.

On my trip over I'd already done the North West Circuit, the Hump Ridge and the Kepler almost back to back and had great weather, unfortunately my luck ran out a bit on the Milford.
Day 1 on the guided tramp is about half an hours walk, it had me considering doing the walk in my jandals ( I was even talking like a kiwi after so long over the ditch). The weather on our first day was superb and I even managed a swim under the swing bridge near Glade House. The accommodation and the food are what you pay the money for and on both counts we were happy.
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Sunset on the mountains around Glade House.

Day 2 saw us slowly walking up the West Branch of the Clinton River, the weather once again was warm enough although a bit unsettled, still good enough for another swim though. The walking along here like the rest of the track is stunning with mountains towering above on both sides of the valley which has the nickname of the valley of the perpendicular. That night we slept in our room at Pompolona Hut with the curtains open looking up the valley towards Mackinnon Pass.
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Clinton Forks.

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The weather on day 2 was warm enough for a quick swim.

Day 3 had us crossing Mackinnon Pass. This is the day my luck ran out with the weather although it could of been a lot worse, we basically got to Mackinnon Pass Hut without getting too wet. While having a bit of a break out of the wind it started to *&^%$#! down (an under utilised meteorological term I think). The rest of the day had us descending through an increasingly watery world, after dropping Sam off at Quinton Hut I headed back out into the deluge to visit Sutherland Falls, they were certainly pumping in the rain. The endless hot shower had my skin tingling that night.
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Mackinnon Pass Shelter.

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The weather as we descended to Quinton Hut was a bit on the damp side.

Day 4 and we were heading for the ferry at Sandfly Point. The weather had more or less cleared and we were treated to numerous waterfalls cascading down the mountains lining the Arthur River Valley. We arrived at Giant Gate Falls in time for lunch and a swim, I love this place. The rest of the walk was over too quickly and we were soon on the little ferry bobbing our way across the sound, maybe we will be back in another ten years.
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Mackay Falls.

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On the boat trip across Milford Sound from Sandfly Point.

The guided walk isn't for everyone but for us it provided a great experience, I'm at the stage of my life where I don't mind the odd luxury every now and again.
If anyone is interested I've written up a journal with around 100 pictures on it, http://hiking.topicwise.com/doc/goinfer ... lfordtrack

If you just want a Readers Digest version then I did a post on my blog with around 40 pictures on it, http://goinferalonedayatatime.blogspot. ... aland.html
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Re: Milford Track Journal

Postby Lizzy » Sun 15 Nov, 2015 10:27 am

Thanks for posting :)
I personally don't think it all has to be hard core- nice to see other options out there. Often this is helpful for people that are younger, older, families, or just like a bit more comfort...
It's a beautiful tramp no matter which way you do it! I fondly remember having some muffins donated by the guided walks when I did it 15 years ago :)
Cheers
Lizzy
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Re: Milford Track Journal

Postby cajun » Sun 15 Nov, 2015 10:34 am

Yes - thanks for posting Kev.

Any of our further multi day hikes will be done like this, so it is great to hear about the options first hand. We are currently investigating the Queen Charlotte walk among others.
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Re: Milford Track Journal

Postby wayno » Sun 15 Nov, 2015 10:53 am

dont think the milford ia a walkover, someone drowned on the track a couple of years ago. they remove a lot of the bridges over winter because of avalanches.., there are dozens of avalanche paths across the track in winter..
even outside of winter the track regularly floods , sometimes to the point the track is closed, it can get up to half a metre of rain in a day. when i came off it, you couldnt see miford sound the rain was so heavy.
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Re: Milford Track Journal

Postby GPSGuided » Sun 15 Nov, 2015 1:18 pm

Pretty crazy there Wayno!


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Re: Milford Track Journal

Postby wayno » Sun 15 Nov, 2015 3:43 pm

yeah people look at photos and videos and think primo. but in bad conditions it can be a potentially life threatening place.
someone fell off the track to mackinnon pass to their death recently. not that its a narrow or dangerous path. either they werent paying attention where they were walking or had a health episode.
i went through just after a storm, there were mature tree trunks snapped clean off, the river had taken out a part of the track, water had washed away other parts of the track, hut windows blown out. they had to change the location of one of the huts after the river undercut it. its the wettest place in the world at sea level, its almost guaranteed to rain when you're there. fiordland is notoriously windy year round, people routinely have to turn back on the nearby routeburn and kepler tracks. someone collapsed with hypothermia at new years on the kepler and it wasnt a particularly cold day by fiordland standards...
recently DOC have had to change their publicity material to emphasise the dangerous aspects of the conditions especially in winter.
doc tell people they have to front up to pick up their tickets so they can lecture them about what to expect, the forecast and check out their gear if they have it with them.
i've seen snow in mid summer half a dozen different years. the rain is often horizontal i've been unable to look straight ahead at times because the rain stung so much.. i've been unable to walk upright at times..
this is a photo of a bridge in a riverbed which has buried it in a flood, the handrails of the bridge are just visible to the left of the people
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Re: Milford Track Journal

Postby bigkev » Sun 15 Nov, 2015 6:26 pm

Thanks to everyone who checked out my post.

Sometimes its the little things that you remember, if I was independently hiking I reckon I'd appreciate some muffins too Lizzy, the guides are a little like track angels and do a wonderful job of shepherding their walkers through, as Wayne has pointed out, what can be some fairly serious terrain.

The Queen Charlotte track looks good, it's on the back of my mind for next year..well see! Cajon I'm with you and Lizzy regarding the guided walks, I like a bit of both as I get older both independent and luxury. The Hump Ridge Track is also worth checking out if you want a bit of luxury.

Cheers
Kevin
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Re: Milford Track Journal

Postby sim1oz » Sun 15 Nov, 2015 8:33 pm

Hi bigkev,

Thanks for sharing your trip report and photos. I ended up reading all the NZ walk reports on your blog as we are doing quite a few of the walks next year. Great photos!

Cheers,
sim1oz
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Re: Milford Track Journal

Postby bigkev » Wed 18 Nov, 2015 6:11 pm

Hi sim1oz,

Thanks for checking out the posts, it makes all the work worth while when people get something useful out of them. New Zealand is as close to paradise a walker can get I think, I absolutely love it over there and can't wait to go back again...although it might be a good idea to wait for the world cup to recede into my kiwi mates minds a little!

Cheers
Kevin
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