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Updated by newzealandtrails on Sep 09, 2019
Headline for 10 tips to hiking the Milford Track
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10 tips to hiking the Milford Track

Here are the top 10 things you should know before hiking the Milford Track in New Zealand. From how to get there, the weather and what to pack, this list is a good starting point if you're planning a Milford Track hike.

Source: https://newzealandtrails.com/news/hiking-milford-track/

1

Where is the Milford Track?

Where is the Milford Track?

The famous Milford Track is found in the Fiordland National Park in New Zealand's South Island. This national park is also home to other Great Walks - the Routeburn, Hollyford and Kepler Tracks. Known as the finest walk in the world, it's no surprise that many people choose to walk the Milford Track.

2

How long is the Milford Track?

How long is the Milford Track?

The Milford Track is 53.5km (3.2 miles) long, taking you from Glade Wharf at the head of Lake Te Anau to Sandfly Point in the breathtaking Milford Sound. It takes four days to walk the track and can only be walked one way.

3

When is the best time of year to hike the Milford Track?

When is the best time of year to hike the Milford Track?

The best hiking season in New Zealand is between October and April (spring through autumn). Outside of these months, there can be hazards such as snow, ice and flooding which can make this hike a lot more difficult. During the winter, the track isn't maintained or managed by rangers so it's strongly recommended to hike during the season.

4

How do I get to the Milford Track?

How do I get to the Milford Track?

The Milford Track is in Fiordland National Park in the Southwest of New Zealand. While the track is secluded, there is easy access to both the start and the end. If you're travelling from afar, it is best to fly into Queenstown airport and travel to Fiordland from there. It's a couple of hours' drive from Queenstown to Te Anau, the town near the start of the track and the gateway to Fiordland National Park. To get to the start of the Milford Track, you'll need to head to the wharf at Te Anau Downs (about a 30min drive). There are buses that you can pre-book from Te Anau to the wharf with your boat ticket. The boat trip is about 1 hour, and takes you to the starting point of the track. Make sure you book in advance and arrive well before your boat departure if you're driving yourself.

5

How do I get off the track?

How do I get off the track?

On the final day of your hike, you'll end up at Sandfly Point. There's a small shelter where you can sit down and have a rest while you wait for the boat to take you back to Te Anau. It's a 15-minute boat journey with the first trip at 2pm, followed by 3pm and 4pm trips. Don't worry about being left behind - they know exactly how many people are on the track and make sure that everyone is picked up.

6

What is the accommodation like on the Milford Track?

What is the accommodation like on the Milford Track?

While hiking the Milford Track, you'll stay in DOC (Department of Conservation) huts along the way. Camping is no allowed on the track so you will need to book in to these huts. Each hut has a warden who you will need to see your ticket so they know you've booked and paid for a bunk. This also means there's no risk of missing out on a bed after a long day hiking! The huts sleep up to 40 people in large bunk rooms and have communal cooking facilities. There are generators to provide electricity but these are switched off overnight so don't forget to pack a torch or headlamp for brushing your teeth or late night toilet visits. It's also worth noting that there are no showers, flush toilets (long drops only) or drying facilities out there.

7

What do I need to bring on the Milford Track hike?

What do I need to bring on the Milford Track hike?

The Milford Track is in the backcountry of New Zealand so there is nowhere to buy food along the way. Make sure you back enough food for breakfast, lunch and dinner, as well as high energy snacks. You might find you're more hungry than usual with all the hiking you'll be doing! There is plenty of water along the track from side streams, and the DOC huts so lots of spots to fill up your water bottle. You'll need to pack a sleeping bag (there's no heating in the bunk rooms of the huts), as well as all your own cooking utensils, first aid kit, survival kit and all clothing and toiletries you'll need. Quick dry fabric is highly recommended in case you get caught in a downpour or work up a sweat, so it can be dry for you the next morning.

8

Can I do a day walk on the Milford Track?

Can I do a day walk on the Milford Track?

There are sections of the Milford Track that can be hiked as a day walk instead of doing the full four days. A day hike from Sandfly Point is a great experience for those wanting to see the Milford Track and Milford Sound in one day. There is no public boat to Sandfly Point so the only way to do this day walk is with a guided tour. There are day tours leaving around 8am so you can book a spot on one of those. It's around an 8km return hike, past the beautiful Giant Gate - a real highlight of the Milford Track.

You could also walk from Glade Wharf to Clinton Forks as a day walk. Take the boat to Glade Wharf at the start of the Milford Track and you'll have about five hours to explore before the departs to take you back to Te Anau Downs. It's a 5km walk to Clinton Hut, taking around 1.5 hours to get there so it makes for a good lunch spot before turning around to head back to the boat. You can do this day walk by yourself or join a guided tour.

9

What can I see on the Milford Track?

What can I see on the Milford Track?

Flora - you'll hike through southern beech forest, emerging above the beech forest and see ancient rimu trees, up to 40m tall, as well as kahikatea (white pine). The forest floor is covered in mosses and lichens, and you'll spot native tree ferns, like our iconic silver fern. Higher up the mountains, you'll find totara trees. This hike is a great way to see a lot of native New Zealand trees and other flora.

Wildlife - as you wander along the track, you'll hear native birdsong from the treetops. Keep an ear out for tui and bellbirds, and watch for the wood pigeon (kereru) flapping through the trees. Once you're in Milford Sound, you can see New Zealand fur seals and Fiordland crested penguins. If you're lucky, a pod of dolphins might cruise along beside you on your boat trip.

10

What is the weather like on the Milford Track?

What is the weather like on the Milford Track?

New Zealand follows a maritime climate so the weather can be very changeable and sometimes unpredictable. Milford is officially the wettest place in New Zealand, but it is the rain that makes the hundreds of waterfalls so impressive! In saying that, you may also be lucky to get good weather on the Milford Track, particularly between December and February. The most important thing is to be prepared for any weather - make sure you've got a decent rain jacket and a sunhat!