Swimming the Hollyford Track (Part Two) – The Hollyford Track Guided Walk

“A Mish a Day” #186 The Hollyford Track – Part Two. Fiordland National Park. 27.1.2016. Only hearing about Fiordland ran will never do it any justice. To truly appreciate how wild Fiordland can be sometimes you have to put up with wet feet. After five seasons working on the Routeburn Track I switched over to the Milford Track, as the two times I had walked it during those years I had had nothing but sunshine. I would see some good storms during the season I worked on the world famous track, but much like my first visits, when my parents and their friends came to hike the Milford Track they had four days of sunshine…

Now on another track but still in Fiordland, it was time for them to finally see what Fiordland rain looked like. We visited the Jamestown site, and learned the depressing story of the early settlers in the area, while the whole time the rain smashed its way through the canopy of the dense forest. As the waterlogged party made their way to Martins Bay Lodge I became another guide, helping the team negotiate the swollen side streams, which were now part of a very watery moving forest floor. Our attempt to walk to Martins Bay was stopped by the normally dry Jerusalem Creek bed becoming a brown, fast flowing, un-crossable river. The sight of the river was even a big surprise to our guides as they had never seen it in this state. We knew we were very lucky to not only see rain, but also the biggest storm of the season. Upon learning this we finally got our one grumpy client to enjoy the simple pleasures of splashing about in the puddles. We walked along the flooded Martins Bay Landing strip to get to plan B, a boat ride to Martins Bay Hut. After finally getting to the hut we went out to see the Seal Colony, before returning to Martin Bay Lodge to dry out. Once again we were treated to insanely good food, and a very welcoming stay with the lodge managers at Martins Bay Lodge. It was here that we were told the rain stats, and we all discovered that we had had more than 440ml of rain in less than twenty hours!

Exploring the dunes at Martins Bay

An early-ish start the next day had the team heading over the Lake McKerrow outlet to learn all about the rich history amongst the dunes of Martins Bay, once home to the famous Rangatira Tutoko (local Maori Chief), and the super tough McKenzie Family. Along with the helpful service and mountains of food, the guided walk also includes an incredible flight down the Fiordland coast, from Martins Bay to Piopiotahi / Milford Sound. The flight was incredible, however it did have its moments as we had to take evasive action to avoid not one, but two flocks of seagulls, and I’m sure the seats still have a hand-print or two from how hard they were being gripped as the machine swerved to safety. What an adventure! The Hollyford Track is so much more than just another hike in one of the most beautiful places on earth (Fiordland), as with the help of the skillful team of guides, lodge staff and vehicle drivers, our trip down the Hollyford Valley will go down as an “Extremely Epic Experience” and an adventure I highly recommend to anyone. My advice is to pack a rain jacket!!

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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