Well Worth the Wait (Part 4) – My First Milford Track Adventure

“On a Mish” #218 Well Worth the Wait (Part Four) – My First adventure on the Milford Track. Fiordland National Park. 4.12.2010. The Milford Track seems to almost over do it when it comes to epic mountainous scenery. Along with the incredible mountains that surround the track, there are also several waterfalls to view. Of all the waterfalls seen from the track, the most amazing (personal preference) is also New Zealand’s largest. Sutherland Falls is an impressive sight to behold…

Millions of litres of water per second plummet from Lake Quill, 580 metres above the valley floor. The power of the water sends a rumble through the ground that can be felt from hundreds of metres away. As per tradition, I ventured behind the water, and as per tradition I returned looking 10 years younger!

After my trip to the falls, the night at Quintin Lodge was excellent, with anticipation building for the climax of the journey when we all get to Piopiotahi / Milford Sound. We couldn’t declare victory just yet, as we still had to hike down the Arthur Valley.

Giants Gate Falls

Early-ish the next day we were up and off, and once again the valley was engulfed in a layer of low cloud. At this stage of our journey we knew the routine, so we patiently waited for the big ball of warmth to break through. As expected the sun eventually appeared, and this quickly dispersed the clouds to reveal yet another bluebird day in Fiordland.

The now seasoned hikers wandered their way down the rocky decline of ‘Gentle Annie’ and arrived at a near empty Dumpling Hut, the third and last of the DoC (independent) Huts.

The sandflies in the Arthur Valley kept the group moving towards the only escape from the flying vampires, at Boatshed Hut. The history-rich little hut gave us a comfortable place to enjoy our sandwiches, and after a quick snack we moved on.

Next was the unique water sculpture of Bell Rock, and then one of New Zealand’s most photographed and stunning waterfalls, MacKay Falls.

The track then followed along the base of the aptly named Steep Hill(1631m), getting closer and closer to Piopiotahi/Milford Sound. As we hiked along the undulating track we came alongside the muddy waters of the upper reaches of Lake Ada. Everything seemed to be going our way on this trip, and the sun was warm as we got to Giants Gate Falls. This waterfall has become one of my favourites, and the thundering flow of H2O never disappoints the lucky hikers walking the track. The sun was warm, the water was not. As much as I don’t like cold water, not going for a swim would be rude and ignoring the track’s traditions, so I took a polar plunge in the icy lake below the falls.

After a very quick swim in some of the coldest water I have ever been in, it was time to pass the 33 mile marker, and finish my first hike of the Milford Track. The last stretch of our journey went by without incident, and after high fives at Sandfly Point we were loaded into a boat.

The iconic image of Piopiotahi/Milford Sound has been etched into New Zealanders’ minds for years through postcards, advertisements and so much more, therefore I knew what I was about to see. Even so the view nearly (probably did) bring a tear to my eye. With the boat steaming its way directly towards the white, glacier-covered south face of Mt Pembroke(2015m), we rounded the small peninsula of land where Deepwater Basin becomes the Fiord, and there was the sight that has brought millions of tourists to our country…

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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