Round Two (Part One). Dore Pass(1390m)

“On a Mish” #120 Round Two (Part One). Dore Pass(1390m). Fiordland National Park. 21.1.2018. It has been said that Fiordland is a place for the waterproof explorer. Many times I have watched my days off approach just as a storm is due to hit the South Island’s jewel, Fiordland National Park. Along with the notorious weather you have the steepest country in New Zealand. Cliffs are commonplace and deep valleys are the norm. Before aircraft it was up to the brave to find what exists. The discovery of Mackinnon Pass(1069m) was so crucial for Piopiotahi / Milford Sound until the construction of the Homer Tunnel. As if trapped in a fortress, the Milford Track shared the same single route remoteness problem until the discovery of Dore Pass(1390m)…

I have always considered the Milford Track more of an ‘Experience’ than just another traditional hike. Most will get to the tranquil waters of the Clinton River at the top of Lake Te Anau by travelling on a boat to Glade Wharf, the normal starting point of the world famous Milford Track.

The ‘Standard’ way to get to the start of the track is definitely the easiest, and the unique views of the Fiordland mountains from Lake Te Anau are outstanding.

For the more adventurous there is another way to access the Milford Track and that’s from the Eglington Valley via a challenging alpine pass through the rugged and steep Earl Mountains.

The Eglington was once just another forest-clad valley with the Maori only aware of the access to the coast via the Divide. Then during the 1920’s the Eglington went on to become the busiest part of Fiordland as the construction of the Milford Road began to carve a route to Piopiotahi / Milford Sound. Before the road it was only the brave, like William Grave and Jack Dore, who dared to enter the mountains with their jungle-like forests in Northern Fiordland.

The discovery of a route up the Clinton Valley and into the Arthur Valley (the Milford Track) became an instant tourist icon, and a very important part of New Zealand tourism history. Many hikers from all over the world have enjoyed the adventure up and over MacKinnon Pass(1069m) into Milford Sound. Alternative access to the Milford Track wouldn’t be available until more than 20 years after the famous route was established through the Clinton Valley.

For those who like a tough tramping challenge, Dore Pass(1390m) offers so much more than just another way to start the Milford Track.

The hazards that make Dore Pass a much more demanding outing begin immediately from the unassuming car park on the Milford Road. Starting with a boot wash with a crossing of the Eglington River, which WILL become impassable after any kind of Fiordland rain.

I was taking on the pass with my girlfriend and after getting lost in fog on our first attempt we were back at the base of the Earl Mountains, however on this day the weather let us see everything and we were ready for ‘Round Two’ with the mighty Dore Pass…

Thick mist in the Upper Murcott Burn Valley…

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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