Tag Archives: trail_Milford_Track

Milford Track. The descent from MacKinnon Pass

Each day on the track, Ultimate Hikes sets out an array of ingredients for lunch. Before descending from MacKinnon Pass, Meg and I enjoyed our sandwiches at a warming hut at the top.  One of the guides kept hot water going, so one had a wide choice of drinks.

Leaving the hut, we were hit by a strong wind that diminished as we dropped into the canyon below. Avalanche danger still existed on the standard descent–we heard one that sounded like a sudden resonating clap of thunder. So, we were required to take the “emergency route,” a one mile trail where each step was over/on top of/between rocks and trees, and dropped us one to two feet for each step.  Fortunately, our hiking poles kept us steady, but we were sore by the end of the day.

We stayed at Quintin Lodge, in the heart of Fiordland’s mountains. Sutherland Falls, the highest in New Zealand and fifth highest in the world, stunned us with its size and volume.  If you saw Hobbit 1, the movie ends with the giant eagles flying over these falls. The top of the falls and its drop was filmed by helicopter and the eagles digitally inserted.  You can see this scene on You Tube.

Descent from MacKinnon Pass

Falls, Roaring Burn (river)

Sutherland Falls

Sutherland Falls

The Milford Track. Day 2: MacKinnon Pass Ascent

The second day on the Milford Track, although just nine miles, was the most challenging.  Between start and finish, Meg and I would ascend 2400 feet over MakKinnon Pass and then and descend 2800 feet, all in less then six miles. The weather began with a light rain, creating large numbers of water-wonderfalls. The the mist encompassed us as we began upwards on a rocky trail.  We felt that we were following the path of Bilbo and the Dwarves as they traveled to the Misty Mountains.

The New Zealand government commissioned Quintin MacKinnon in 1888 to push through a track so that tourists could travel from Lake Te Anau to Milford Sound. Despite torrential rain, alternating with hot days, he succeeded in October, 1888.

The route is majestic and magical, rated one of the best in the world. The clouds cleared slightly at the top, treating Meg and me to breathtaking, other worldly views.

The descent is another story, and will be taken up in another post.

Meg in rain, after leaving Pamplona Lodge

Ascent to MacKinnon Pass

Hiker in the mist

Where are Bilbo and the Dwarves?

MacKinnon memorial

MacKinnon Pass

MacKinnon Pass

The Milford Track, Day 1

The Milford Track is rated one the world’s “must do” hikes. Meg and I were fortunate to have the opportunity to enjoy it last week.  The track travels 33.5 miles and takes three days of actual hiking, with one day to get there and half a day to return to Queenstown from Milford Sound.

We hiked the first two days in mist and light rain, which intensified the mystique of the multi green-hued rain forest and the river beside it.  Waterfalls abounded above us.  There was scarcely a time on the trail when we did not see waterfalls.

The hike was expertly led by four guides from Ultimate Hikes, which holds the concession to lead this track.  Meg and I went with them two years ago on the Routeburn Track.  We strongly recommend this company!

Starting the Milford Track

Meg enjoys a rainforest creature

This is the “feel” of the Milford Track in the mist

Clinton River

Clinton river

Once in a while, you need to duck

Milford Track, rainforest mood

Clinton River