Come See the Fiordland Rain (Part One) – The Milford Track 2013

“On a Mish” #300 Come See the Fiordland Rain (Part One). The Milford Track – The Real World to Glade House. Clinton Valley. Fiordland National Park. 24.2.2013. I have always had difficulty doing any justice to describing Fiordland rain. It really is something you have to experience for yourself. The way it can completely change an environment is insane and can open your mind about just how heavily rain can fall. For years I hiked the hills of Fiordland and returned with tales of torrential torrents teeming down from above, but when it was time to show my folks the fun of Fiordland rain the sun had other ideas…

There are actually two completely different Fiordland experiences. One is when the sun is shining and the impressive mountains of Fiordland are on show. The other is when the heavens open up and the rain comes pouring down, by the bucket full!

After five seasons on the Routeburn Track it was time for a change and luckily the company I worked for (Ultimate Hikes) had other guided walks where the scenery is world class plus. Having luxurious options on both the Routeburn and Milford Tracks means job opportunities on arguably the best hiking tracks on the planet.

Many Routeburn guides will tell you that changing from the Routeburn to the Milford Track is turning to the darkside and it is the same for the Milford Guides if you defect to the otherside! Nowadays the two tracks are much more united under the Ultimate Hikes umbrella (don’t bother taking one on either track!). Both as equally awesome places to call your office!

I have to thank my parents for the head start on hiking and for moulding my mind into one that loves the outdoors enough to make it my job as well as my favourite pastime. It was very cool to guide my parents on the Routeburn Track back in 2009, and I’m sure they were much happier seeing me at a job that I actually enjoyed. Life is too short to get up and be angry to go to work everyday.

My single season working on the Milford Track was a rare dry year for that part of Fiordland. As my parents’ trip grew closer I kept an eye on the weather, and really hoped that there was some heavy rain on the horizon. Unfortunately all I saw on the forecast was that yellow circle everyone seems to love. As we drove from Queenstown to Te Anau the dawn sky was clear of any cloud and the party of hikers heading to the head of the Milford Track were cheery and ready to get their sunny party started.

The Team at the Start of the Milford Track

After a tea break in Te Anau we were back on the buses bound for the boat at Te Anau Downs. The trip north up Lake Te Anau was nothing but open air and building anticipation. After the ferry dropped us off we were left with the sound of the Fiordland forest.

The team began the short hike up to Glade House (first lodge on the track) and there was no need to hurry. After the mammoth distance of just over a kilometre we gathered for the group photo outside the lodge. The happy hikers basked in the afternoon’s gloriously warm t-shirt weather. It was even too hot for the Sandflies!.

After the photo we wandered our way up to the Glade Burn for a unique look down at Lake Te Anau. The still air and bird song made it hard to drag ourselves back to the lodge for dinner.

Our evening meal was as always awesome as! Afterwards we introduced ourselves and informed the group what tomorrow’s weather was going to be and unfortunately (for me) it looked like the sun was going to be on show!

Early-ish the next day the team saddled up and began their Miford Track adventure. The inversion layer in the Clinton Valley didn’t hang around for very long, and before we knew it the sun was bearing down on us and we were reaching for the sunscreen instead of the rain jacket.

Not long after starting there is the option of a side track out to an excellent viewing area amongst the moss of a delicate wetland. If customers want to do this sidetrip they are asked to leave their bags on the side of the main track. As I approached the pile of bags I saw Jeremy’s (my father’s) sitting on top and now it was time for revenge…

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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