Previous entry: Routeburn Track Day 3 – Lake Mackenzie Hut to The Divide
Journal entry for April 9, 2015
Distance Hiked: 5.0 km
As I got close to my starting date of the Milford Track hike, I wondered if it would live up to its hype. Touted as “the finest walk on earth”, it is by far the hardest reservation to get from all the hikes in New Zealand. So hard that when I booked for the April 9, 2015 starting day back in September 2014, I took the very last spot left. Unlike the flexibility of the other Great Walks, they required you to do the Milford Track in exactly four days, with everybody going in the same direction. It is also very expensive, costing 363 NZD when including the transportation to and from the closest town of Te Anau. Despite all the hype, I went in with low expectations, knowing from the accounts the others that a great experience is very dependent on good weather.
I arrived at Te Anau the day before and went to the Department of Conservation site to pick up my tickets. They give you a booklet which includes tickets for the bus/boat rides to and from the trail, and tickets for the three huts. The first day is a very short 5 km walk to Clinton Hut, and you are given the choice to take the shuttle/boat combo in the morning or early afternoon. The natural choice for me was going in the morning, allowing me more time out there to enjoy nature. The woman who printed the tickets for me told me that rain was expected for the next four days, maybe even snow.
I met Anna from Denmark while waiting for the 9:45am shuttle from Te Anau to Te Anau Downs. She was also doing the Milford Track, while some other people on the bus were only doing day trips. It took 30 minutes to arrive at Te Anau Downs and we boarded the ferry to Glade Wharf right away. Despite being cold and windy, I sat on the top deck of the boat and enjoyed the 45-minute ride. They provided “free” coffee and tea.
It was now time to start the legendary Milford Track. I felt very fortunate for the opportunity to experience these special things during this trip.
Anna and I took our sweet time to walk the 5 km to Clinton Hut. The trees, moss, ferns and mushrooms were amazing. So many little details that made me stop and admire.
We also took a short side trip through a boardwalk trail to a wetland.
Clinton Hut has two bunk rooms with 20 beds in each, and a common room with faucets, sinks, gas cookers, tables, and solar-powered LED lights for the evening. The toilets are of the flush variety and while there was no soap, they did provide hand sanitizer.
Hut Ranger Ross took us for a nature walk at 4:30. He knows a lot about the flora in the area and it was an interesting 1-hour walk.
I prepared the usual Back Country freeze-dry dinner. I keep getting surprised at how good they are. Less salty than the ones in the US.
This was the most friendly bunch of people in all the Great Walks so far. They were all very warm and approachable. I chatted with a Spanish couple, a group of seven young Australians, and Dor from Israel. On the advice of Ranger Ross, a few of us went to see some glow worms once it got dark.
While the first day was just a little warm up, it was still very beautiful, even though it wasn’t the type of fiord landscape I was expecting. That would have to come later.
Next entry: Day 2 – Clinton Hut to Mintaro Hut