Deep in Sandfly Country (Part Two) – Tutoko Valley

“On a Mish” #296 Deep in Sandfly Country (Part Two). Tutoko Valley. Fiordland National Park. 18.4.2015. If you ever think you are too small to make a difference, then tell that to a sandfly stuck in your tent! The Dalai Lama said words to similar effect and they couldn’t be more true. Te Namu might be small but they can be a big issue for some people. We were about to find out that when you travel into the heart of Sandfly Country you are going to have a battle on your hands…

Even as I write this I am still surprised as to how long it took me to trek up the Tutoko Valley. I had driven by it many times, and also gone on many adventures near it but still after eight years working around the mountain I hadn’t ventured up the Tutoko Valley. This was about to change.

By 2015 I was enjoying the greener pastures of the Humpridge Track while my girlfriend still worked on the Milford Track as a guide. This was great as it meant I still had a connection to a place I really enjoyed calling my office. It also gave me an excuse to head into the Darran Mountains at the northwest tip of Fiordland National Park.

The guiding season had just finished and before my girlfriend and I headed north for winter work we wanted one more wander. The idea of a mish near Milford came into our heads and together we decided to hike up the Tutoko Valley and camp near the Age Glacier. Pictures and route descriptions had us pumped and after grabbing our gear we headed out on a mish.

High cloud hung over Fiordland and it painted a picture of what was coming, the dry spell was coming to an end and if we wanted to do our mish in the dry we were well aware we would need an early-ish start the next day. We might stay dry for the hike in up the valley, however it might be a different story the next day when we hiked back down the valley to the Milford Road. A dry night in Fiordland was all we were concerned about and with that we were on our way.

After getting to the start of the track we readied our gear and set off. A couple of cars pulled over after seeing us and as expected the vehicle’s occupants didn’t get very far up the track. Within about fifteen minutes we were away from the noise of the road and we began to feel like the only people on planet earth.

The track itself is reasonably flat but it is still a rugged Fiordland hiking track. We trekked our way up the valley on the very rough at times track. In places we would see the orange triangle signalling the way we should go, the only problem was that following the triangle would lead us into yet another boggy area. Our boots did not stay dry on the walk in.

At one point we arrived at a small clearing to see the king of Fiordland standing proud. The mountain seemed so much bigger when standing near it’s base in the valley it is named after. As far as grand scenes go this was one of the best I had seen and I knew it was only going to get better. Nothing could stop us achieving our goals now, or at least we thought that was the case…

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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