Often described as the 'finest walk in the word', the Milford Track takes you through a deep river valley and over an 1154m alpine pass, spanning 54km of lush New Zealand scenery.
Part of what makes this such an interesting challenge (other than walking 54km!) is the fact that you have to carry all your own food (cutlery and rubbish) throughout the trip.
As my first real tramping experience, it was memorable and slightly painful (but in a good way!).
Ten tips to help you pack for the Milford:
1. Comfortable tramping shoes (I decided to hire a pair to save money, a cheap option but potentially painful on Day 3!) and extra pairs of socks.
2. Understand the NZ climate - unpredictable and extreme weather patterns - check current conditions before departing on your trip
3. Respect the environment and keep it clean.
4. Sandflies! Remember insect repellent and don't scratch (makes it worse). Keep moving, they dont byte when you're moving (seriously!).
5. Correct clothing is essential. Pack thermals, marino (keeps you warm even when you get wet. Be prepared for at least one wet day on your trip.
6. Down jacket for heat.
7. Gor-tex jacket (you're walking into a rainforest.).
8. Pack light. You're carrying everything - food, pots, cups, plates etc.
9. Plan your meals - you need fuel, especially when the temp drops.
10. High energy snacks are essential.
Day 1. Glade wharf - Clinton hut: 5 km
Our trek started with a sunny stroll along the banks of the Clinton River, to the Clinton Hut and included a freezing late November swim.
Day 2. Clinton hut - Mintaro hut: 16.5 km
A gradual climb to Lake Mintar. The track passes through many avalanche paths and reveals your first view of the Mackinnon Pass and the Pompolona ice field. The vegetation starts to change, reflecting the higher altitude and rainfall. We were lucky, during the 4 day trek, it only rained for the last 3 hours on the Day 2.
Day 3. Mintaro hut - Dumpling hut: 14 km
Start climbing! Two hours to the Mackinnon Memorial. Potential strong winds up there. Then the final climb to the highest point and The Pass Day Shelter. Bright, blue skies, snow covered peaks and spectacular views of the pass.
Lots of curious Kea bird activity at the top.
The cheeky birds will tear at anything you leave standing around.
Careful as the walk down drops 970 metres. Head toSutherland Falls before going to Dumpling Hut (about 1½ hours return) it will blow your mind (or the spray might just blow you away!).
Day 4. Dumpling hut - Sandfly point: 18 km
Ouch! Day 4 is the longest walk and you might well be feeling the after effects of Day 3's descent!
Keep an eye out for the rare Blue Ducks at Mackay falls as you head to Sandfly point - your final destination! Here the boat awaits to take you to Milford Sound. Phew! You've made it.