I’m sure most of you reading this have heard of the Milford Track, some of you may have had the pleasure of walking all 53 majestic kilometers. I myself, am unfortunately not that lucky. I have done the one day guided walk with Real Journeys that covers the start of the Milford Track at the Northern tip of Lake Te Anau.
So, let me tell you a bit about what you might expect if you are after a taste of what the track can offer but may not have time or just missed out on the chance to spend 3 nights hiking one of New Zealand’s Great Walks.
My day started when I awoke to the pitter patter, no, more crashing and banging as the rain pounded the roof and the thunder echoed in the distance. Always the optimist, I told myself it was probably just an isolated shower and once we walk off the bus at Te Anau Downs the sun will be shinning. Here’s a fun fact, it rains more than 200 days a year in Fiordland. Milford Sound can get from 1200mm to 8000mm annually. I knew this but wasn’t going to give up hope for a blue bird day. I arrived at the Visitor center in Te Anau where I met up with a friend and we waited patiently for our bus. Our motivation was low, and our hot chocolate intake was high.
Just 25 minutes later we arrived at Te Anau downs where our boat awaited. This is where things started to look up. Yes, it was still pouring with rain but as the boat pulled away from the dock and left civilization behind, the misty peaks around us came to life. Lord of the Rings anyone?! There was not a breath of wind and the lake was so smooth you could see each raindrop penetrate the surface. We helped ourselves to the free tea and coffee onboard and watched the beauty unfold as we moved deeper into the wilderness. The boat cruise to the very northern tip of Lake Te Anau takes around one hour. We were treated to Fiordland’s charm even before taking one step on the beech leaf blanketed ground.
As we pulled up to the dock where our Milford Track journey would begin, the rain was still falling from the sky and we couldn’t care less! We had some shelter as we walked under the tree canopy along the Glade Burn to Glade House as our guide pointed out different types of native plants as well as any birds that were out braving the elements. Even though during the busy summer season the Milford track has up to 40 people a day starting the walk, there was barely anyone in sight as we had missed the rush and booked the walk for late in the season. As Glade hut came into view our small group of about 12 turned a happy amble into a much quicker stride, keen to kick off the boots and enjoy the heavenly lunch that was awaiting us inside.
I’ve never been so keen to strap on a pair of wet boots but we were all excited to see what else our amazing surroundings had to offer. We approached the Clinton River and up onto the swing bridge where we took advantage of some great photo opportunities and carried on down the track as our knowledgeable guide took us through some interesting facts on the beautiful native flora and fauna. We were all blown away by the enormous landscape that towered around us from huge native trees to colossal mountains and cliff faces.
As we turned back to catch the boat, the rain was still coming down in buckets, yet we had all forgotten about how wet we were as we chatted amongst ourselves about what an amazing experience we had. We boarded the boat and stripped off a few wet layers before heading inside to warm up with a hot cuppa. We had covered around 10km and couldn’t be happier with our one day tour on the Milford Track.
Now it was time to head home for a warm shower!
If you are planning to head into Fiordland and conquer any of our amazing great walks, be sure to pack for the elements. A sunny morning can turn to a rainy cold and sometimes snowy at high altitude afternoon before you know it. Check the weather forecast before leaving home and be extra careful if you are hiking outside of the summer season. Enjoy!Back to Local Insights Page