The Milford Track – “The finest walk in the world”
After gathering last minute supplies in Te Anau (The local supermarket was obviously cashing in on trampers with every conceivable concoction of nut mixes anyone could imagine! Took us 10 min choosing one and ended on selecting 2 for snacks along the track). We headed down to the DoC (Department of Conservation) to pick up our bus, ferry and hut tickets for the walk and discovered I had double booked the bus trip from Milford sound at the far end. Better than no booking. In any case they had no problems refunding the extra booking.
To get us to the start of the Milford track required a short bus ride to take us to the ferry and then a 1.5hr boat cruse up the Te Anau lake to Glade wharf. From here we had a relatively short 1.5 hr walk to our first evening at Clinton hut. The track was immaculate! And the first days walk was relatively easy. The scenery was stunning. Initially when admiring the aqua green river flowing beside the track we assumed that the surface was covered with small green water lilies, but soon realized that the water was so crystal clear, we were actually seeing the river pebbles on the bottom. Weather was fresh and were blessed with cloudy blue skies until the cloud cover closed in over the mountains. It was a great start…
The Ultimate Hikes staff were all packed up and leaving the trail as their season had just ended. So the Independent walkers will have the track to themselves. There are a total of 37 trampers that we will be sharing the track with, along with the huts.
The huts. If you are expecting 5 star accommodation, don’t even bother with what the Ultimate hikes offer. Even 3 star. Our huts consisted of a couple of bunk rooms housing around 20 people each. These bunk rooms, whilst clean, are minimal in every way. No heating, no electricity, no lighting, no curtains, no pillows, no blankets. Just basic timber walls, floors and ceilings, with rows of timber bunk beds and vinyl covered mattresses.
Bathrooms consisted of a row of flushing toilets with toilet paper (bonus) and basic stainless steel basins with just cold water. Again, no lighting.
The living quarters had minimal LED solar lighting along with rows of gas burners and rows of sinks with running cold water. The only form of heating was the wood fired potbelly stove.
One word… Luxury!
Our first evenings cooking experience was a minor disaster. Rather than using our own gas burner that came included with a purpose build alloy canister with heat fins and insulated with neoprene material, we decided to place this directly over the gas stove provided. Unfortunately in the poor lighting we forgot to remove the plastic cap from the bottom of the canister. Didn’t take long to discover this! Then after recovering from that disaster, the neoprene material started to melt… Hmmm, not a good start! Obviously these little JetBoil units should only be used with their intended burners!
It was just on 7:30pm and some people began taking themselves off to bed! Unfortunately there was no evening entertainment. I lasted a little longer than Jenny and was one of the last to turn in at 9:00pm! Unheard of! This could be a long night…