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Milford Track

Time November 9th, 2012 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

At 4:45 Sunday morning I started my journey back to the south island to hike the Milford Track. It is a four day hike through Fiordland National Park that ends at Milford Sound. I went there by myself since no one else really seemed by for the journey. By 2pm I was on the boat that takes the walkers to the start of the track. Only 40 people are allowed to hike independently per day. There is also a guided walk option but they stay at different lodges. Looking around the boat I noticed that most of the people hiking were couples. After taking some picture though I noticed that there were some people my age. There were two girls from Sweden that are taking a gap year between high school and college. I also met Tyler who is from St. Lewis. He graduated college and is traveling around for a year before settling down. We ended up hiking together the whole time and also hiked with the girls a lot of the time.

The first day was an easy 1 hour hike to the first hut. In comparison to the rest of the trip that views were not that great. Yet they were still better than anything back home. The huts are all really nice. They have a separate bunk area, bathrooms, clean running water and a kitchen. No showers though. It turns out that everyone besides Tyler and I brought food to cook. I was fine with my bars and PB&J but it was hard to not get a little jealous when people started actually chopping up potatoes and making a full meal. Ross was our ranger that night and he took us on a nature walk and showed us all the cool plants around the area.

The second day took about 6 hours and was a gradual uphill walk. We had to pay for a helicopter before leaving for the hike so that if the avalanche danger was too high that day we could get a ride across. Luckily it was a perfect day and we were able to hike the whole way. There were tons of waterfalls and lots of avalanche hazard areas. You are not supposed to stop in the avalanche areas or “danger zones” but that seemed to be where all the best views were so we did. But just long enough to get all the pictures…and pose for some group photos. The last part of the hike was a little steeper but still nothing hard. We got to the hut around 2pm and were greeted with views of Mackinnon pass which we would hike up the next day. The ranger that night told us that the vies were best early in the morning and if you leave at 6:30 you can see the sun rising over the mountains. So that’s what Tyler and I did.

This day had the best views by far. Sadly my iPhone died right before reaching the top but my backup camera didn’t do too bad. Only about five people had point and shoot cameras and I was the only one using a phone but the photos came out ok. They don’t even come close to doing it justice but I don’t think any camera could do that. There was frost and ice at the top of the pass. The wind was really strong and it was odd to think that earlier in the morning we were in t-shirts and shorts. I forgot my gloves so I had to decide between keeping my hands warm or taking a picture. My fingers actually had trouble clicking the button sometimes since they went a little numb. The highest point on the path was 1154m. Once we got over the pass though it warmed up and was t-shirt time again. Once we got to the hut a few people went for a swim. I ran in only to get a brain freeze then run back out. It sure was refreshing though and welcomed after a couple days without a shower.

The last day was the longest length wise but took about the same amount of time as the previous day since it is flat. The four of us hiked together the whole time that day and we took lots of photos. I didn’t get many group ones since I felt bad making people take pictures of us with so many cameras but we all exchanged contact info so they should get on Facebook at some point. Around 1:30 we reached the end  and got on the boat to take us on the quick ride to Milford Sound. I hiked 33.5 miles over the course of the track and had a blast! At the ferry terminal the four of us said our goodbyes and I was off to Queenstown for the night. I got some dinner from my favorite places in town and went to bed nice and early. The next day I made my way back to Albany.

Words can not describe how great of a trip it was. The views were jaw dropping, the weather was sunny the whole time (which is very rare since the track is in a rainforest. They tend to get 200mm when it rains), I made some new friends and had a nice relaxing time. It felt like a retreat since there was no technology and no one cared what time it was. If you like hiking I highly recommend putting this on your bucket list.

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