Hike the Milford Track
Without a doubt, the Milford Track Guided Walk will be one of your greatest life stories.
The Milford Track Guided Walk is an amazingly luxurious 5 day/4 night adventure - as far as multi-day hiking goes - traversing the heart of Fiordland National Park and a World Heritage area on New Zealand's scenic South Island. The Milford Track is the most famous and popular of New Zealand's nine renowned Great Walks, and taking the guided option means anyone with a reasonable level of fitness can do the "finest walk in the world" without having to carry a heavy pack, cook, or give up any of the comforts of home. For two weeks of hiking while being pampered, check out our Manuka 14-day hiking trip, that includes the entire Milford Track Guided Walk as well as many stunning day hikes around the South Island.
The Milford Track is located in the southwest of New Zealand's South Island and starts at the head of Lake Te Anau and finishes in Milford Sound. Te Anau, the nearest township, has a full range of accommodation, shopping and hiking gear hire services. It is a 1 hour 45 minute drive from Invercargill, 2 hours from Queenstown, 3 hours 30 minutes from Dunedin and 8 hours from Christchurch.
See Milford Track for more general information about the history of the track, weather and flora and fauna of the Milford area.
Day 1: Queenstown to Glade House - 1.6km/1 mile, 20 minutes walking
Your Milford Track adventure begins at the rear of the Station Building, at the corner of Shotover and Camp Streets, Queenstown (9.15am check-in) where you'll catch a coach to Te Anau (departing 9.30am) arriving in time for a light lunch and a group photo. If you join the group in Te Anau, your briefing will be at 9.30am in the Centra Hotel. After lunch you drive to Te Anau Downs boat harbour, where a launch waits to take you up to the spectacular northern end of Lake Te Anau. From the wharf it is a short walk to historic Glade House, our first lodge, for a hot shower, a filling meal and a comfortable bunk.
Day 2: Glade House to Pompolona Lodge - 16km/10miles, 5-7 hours walking
After crossing the emerald green Clinton River, you follow it up the valley to the Hirere Falls lunch shelter. The beech forest gets more luxuriant the further you go, until it releases you on to the Prairie. From this meadow you can capture the true nature of the ice carved Clinton Canyon. It is a short climb to Pompolona Lodge from here.
Day 3: Pompolona Lodge to Quintin Lodge - 15km/9miles, 6-8 hours walking
This is the most demanding day, especially in inclement weather. The track leads to Lake Mintaro at the head of the Clinton Valley, before climbing the Mackinnon Pass in a series of zig-zags. Take your time. At the top you will be rewarded with endless views and lunch in Pass Hut. After the rocky descent into the Arthur Valley, you will welcome a hot cup of tea at Quintin Lodge. It should be enough to refresh you for the 90-minute round trip to the Sutherland Falls, the world's fifth highest cascade.
Day 4: Quintin Lodge to Mitre Peak - 21km/13 miles, 6-8 hours walking
Your final day on the track. You walk down the Arthur Valley to Boatshed for a cup of tea; on past MacKay Falls and Bell Rock, which was turned out of the river during a particularly violent flood, to the lunch spot at Giants' Gate waterfall. The final stretch of the track follows tranquil Lake Ada to Sandfly Point, where according to Maori legend the goddess Te Hine-nui-te-po released the sandfly to stop men lingering too long on the beauty of Fiordland. From here it is a short launch trip to Mitre Peak Lodge where you will enjoy a celebratory dinner.
Day 5: Cruise on Milford Sound, Transfer to Queenstown - No Hiking
After breakfast you will board one of the Real Journeys Milford Sound Cruises for a cruise on Milford Sound. Watch for dolphins and fur seals and pray for rain. (No-one believes us, but the waterfalls are absolutely incredible during a downpour!). Following the cruise, you start your spectacular journey through the heart of the Fiordland National Park to the Homer Tunnel and on to Te Anau. After a light lunch you will continue to Queenstown arriving at approximately 3.30pm. A spectacular option for the return is a scenic flight back to Queenstown this afternoon, retracing your steps from a bird's eye view.
The Milford Track is neither easy nor difficult. It is a challenge that people of all ages and abilities will relish. To enjoy your walk on the guided option, you need to be able to carry a relatively light backpack containing your personal belongings (see the recommended gear list below), a packed lunch and a sleeping sheet (both of which are provided) for 6-8 hours over 15-21kms (9-13 miles) of mountain tracks each day.
There is no pressure to walk with others or to keep up with the fastest walkers. There is always a guide at the rear of the party. The track surfaces vary from smooth well-formed paths to rough terrain broken by rocks and tree roots. There are steep rocky down hill sections and you may have to ford small streams and wade in deep water after heavy rain. We recommend wearing hiking boots that provide firm ankle support. If you are not a regular walker, we suggest you begin a daily walking regime 6-8 weeks before departure. Gradually increasing the distance you walk, carrying a backpack and staircase or hill climbing will leave you even better prepared to enjoy your challenge.
While on the Milford Track, you will be accompanied by the Track's own guides. They are trained outdoor enthusiasts who will explain the natural and human history of the area you are walking through. They pride themselves on their safe, efficient and friendly service, and provide everything from a warming cup of tea at lunch to an evening briefing on the following day's walk. All Milford Track guides are trained in first aid and are in portable radio contact with each other, the lodges and our Queenstown base at all times. Your safety is of paramount importance so your guides' decisions must be adhered to.
When you arrive at the clean, private lodges at the end of your day's walk (independent walkers stay at shared public huts), you will be greeted by the friendly Milford Track staff who will have afternoon tea waiting. After a hot shower, you can make use of hand laundry facilities and efficient drying room, before joining your fellow walkers in a board game or sing-a-long accompanied by the piano or guitar. Each night you will be served a sustaining three course meal, catered to you dietary needs. New Zealand wine is also served with the meal.
You are welcome to provide your own liquid refreshments if you want a night cap before sinking into your comfortable bunk bed in a shared room. Or ask to upgrade to a private room at time of booking, they are available at additional cost and tend to go quickly. Warm duvets and pillows are provided, but if they are not enough to take the edge of a cool night, you can warm your bed with a hot water bottle. The lodges have their own electricity supply. Hair dryers are provided, and flush toilets at the lodges add a little extra comfort. You'll start each day with a hearty breakfast and given a freshly packed lunch, which you'll carry.
You must attend an essential briefing on the evening prior to the departure of your guided walk. Here they can answer any of your questions, issue you with a sleeping sheet, lend you a backpack and raincoat if you need them, and arrange your departure details for the following morning. It is your chance to meet you travelling companions and confirm any special dietary or medical needs with the Milford Track Guided Walk staff.
Please meet at 4.00pm at the Ultimate Hikes office, Level 1, The Station Building, corner of Shotover and Camp Streets in Queenstown. If you are unable to attend this briefing, it is essential that you advise us where you are staying in Queenstown so they can deliver a back pack, raincoat and briefing notes.
The following is a list of essential equipment. At the pre-departure briefing in Queenstown, you are welcome to borrow a raincoat, backpack, linens etc. for the walk, or you can bring your own if you prefer.
We do not recommend you walk in cotton garments, jeans or silk thermals. Perspiration means you are likely to feel damp and cold inside the best raincoat. We recommend you put all your clothing in plastic bags inside your pack liner for added rain protection. Keep your pack as light as possible while still taking the essentials. Hand laundry facilities (including drying rooms) are available in the lodges, so you really only need to wear one set of walking clothing and carry one set of clothes for the lodge. Remember, a lighter pack will enhance your experience.
Provided by Milford Track Guided Walk (free of charge, or you can bring your own)
- Waterproof raincoat with hood
- Backpack, 40-litre capacity
- Plastic pack liner
- Sleeping sheet with pillowslip
- Boots or strong walking shoes, preferably with ankle support
- Wool or polyproylene thermal underwear (top and bottom) is essential
- Warm hat
- Wool sweater or fleece top
- T-shirt for fine days
- Shorts for walking
- Wool socks - two pairs
- Insect repellent
- Water bottle
- Camera and film
- Shirt or sweater
- Trousers, skirt or sweat pants
- Underwear - two sets
- Sandals or lightweight shoes
- Pajamas or night wear (keep in mind you may be sharing a mixed-gender dorm)
- Handkerchiefs, not tissues
- Toilet requisites (soap, shampoo and conditioner are provided)
Optional items you may want to include
- Sun hat and sunglasses
- Spare laces
- Second skin for blisters
Manuka Milford Hiking Adventure
- 14 Days
- US$5,899 + tax
If you wish to concentrate on hiking the iconic tracks of New Zealand and like your creature comforts, we’ve crafted this trip just for you. It has a strong focus on New Zealand’s natural history. Our guides have plenty of time to interpret the flora and fauna and explain the geological and social history of the areas you’ll visit. You also have the choice of a selection of the best day hikes Fiordland National Park has to offer, along with an overnight cruise on Doubtful Sound, or hiking the famous Milford Track in its entirety. The ‘Manuka’ really is hiking New Zealand in style!
Activity level: The 'Manuka' is an active hiking trip, but has options to suit a wide range of fitness levels and outdoor experience. Typically hikes on the 'Manuka' trip range between three and six hours to complete, with longer hikes on the Milford Track Guided Walk option.