Known as the “greatest walk in the world”, the Milford Track is on many New Zealanders’ bucket lists. If you’re coming from further afield, you’ll have to do battle with the Kiwis to get a ticket — but if you manage to grab a spot, your effort will be well rewarded.
At 52km of mostly easy hiking, this isn’t a challenging walk — though the often-inclement weather can hike up the difficulty level. The kilometres are spread across four days, so even if you’re not the fittest, this walk may well be within your grasp. Enjoy the lush green scenery, immersive birdsong, and glimpses of interesting native creatures (okay, it’s mostly birds) along the way.
In this episode, we speak with our friend Janine Grainger, who was the driving force behind our Milford Track experience!
Get your tickets
Tickets go on sale in early May — in 2016, it was May 4th, in 2017 you’l have to wait until May 16. Head to the DOC Milford Track page at 9am New Zealand time and choose the date you’d like to start the track. This will book the first hut for you, and automatically book the second and third huts on subsequent nights. You have to stay in those huts on the allocated nights, no variation is allowed. Also, no camping is allowed along the track. Tickets were $54 per night in 2016, and will be increasing to $70 per night in 2017.
Get to the start of the Milford track
This is the challenging part! The Milford Track is located in a rather remote area of Fiordland, in the south of New Zealand’s South Island.
Get to Queenstown or Te Anau
You’ll probably first want to find your way to Queenstown by plane, car or bus. If you’re not flying, skip Queenstown and head straight to Te Anau, which is closer to the start of the walk.
Skyscanner and Webjet are good options for finding flights, Intercity and ManaBus are great for buses, and there are heaps of car rental options available — perhaps consider a Spaceship campervan.
Get to Te Anau Downs
You’ll need to catch a boat from Te Anau Downs to the start of the walk, so getting there is important! Te Anau Downs is basically just a wharf and a parking lot, though, so don’t expect much infrastructure. We rented a car and drove straight there from Queenstown — it took about 2.5 hours from Queenstown, or half an hour from Te Anau.
You can also get a shuttle from either Queenstown or Te Anau. Tracknet is a good option.
Boat from Te Anau Downs to the start of the track
Book this when you book your tickets, also on the DOC website. There’s also a water taxi option available, but it’s very pricy!
From the end of the track to Milford Sound:
This is a short, five-minute boat trip that can also be booked through DOC when you buy your hut tickets.
From Milford Sound to Te Anau Downs, Te Anau, or Queenstown:
You can book a bus through Tracknet or Intercity, among other options.
What to pack:
Check out DOC’s packing list. As a general guide, include two changes of clothes, warm layers, full wet weather gear, good boots, walking poles, and five days of food. You won’t need gas or a stove, but you will need pots to cook in.
Many outdoor stores sell lightweight hiking meals that just require hot water to be prepared, and one of these is a great choice for your backup meal. Other ideas include couscous, rice, or pasta-based dishes, using dried veges and salami. Wraps are great for lunch and muesli bars or porridge are great for breakfast — just remember to consider how much your food weighs when you’re packing.
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