Milford Track: I made it!

The finish line
The finish line

So I’m back in Queenstown after finishing the Milford Track. It’s probably fair to say I’m still feeling broken- emotionally as well as physically.

How was it? To be honest, I haven’t fully processed it. It was the single hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life. Day 3 was quite probably the single hardest day of my life. I truly didn’t think I’d make it up that pass- and had begun to wonder whether I’d make it down. Climbing the pass was physically exhausting, and coming back down again – on a much steeper gradient – completely did my head in. The path for much of the way down was the emergency path – the normal one having been taken out by an avalanche (in fact we heard the boom of an avalanche across the valley as we clambered down). To call it a path was being kind. For around 3 hours we picked our way down rocks – some taller than I could bend my knees for; down steep and narrow waterfalls – with the water running over it; climbing over the occasional fallen tree; and sloshing shin-deep in cold, running water.

Aerial view of the pass. Pic by a friend of mine.
Aerial view of the pass. Pic by a friend of mine.

I was on track for 10 hours that day- to cover just 9 miles in driving, persistent rain. Obviously my preparation was (more than) a tad off. When I staggered into lodge that evening I literally had nothing left. Nothing. My friend came out to meet me and I just sobbed and sobbed. I couldn’t do anything else – the relief of making it back in one piece was so great. I think there were a few of us that cried that evening.

The following day though, I pulled on my still wet boots and my still wet layers and tramped another 21kms to come out at Sandfly Point and the end of the track. Yep, a half marathon. There was no other way of getting out.

The reward was sunshine at Milford Sound after almost 4 days of constant rain. And a bath…the best bath I’ve had in my entire life. Oh, and a post-tramp celebration here, in this bar, with this view.


As I write this, my hands are still swollen from sandfly bites, and the nails on both big toes are about to fall off (too much information?) as are another 2 toenails and a finger-nail (don’t ask). Let’s just say that this summer will be most unattractive from a foot point of view. My ankles and fingers are seriously puffy and, in other news, I can finally walk normally without having to grip something for support – man, my muscles were stiff. My appetite is also finally coming back. I was so anxious and exhausted that I wasn’t able to stomach much on track and existed largely on barley sugars for energy. It was something that exacerbated the exhaustion, but, even though the food was plentiful and good, I wasn’t able to swallow without feeling ill.

Would I do it again? No. Do I wish that I’d prepared more diligently? Yep. Am I proud of myself for achieving something I didn’t think I could at my age and condition? Absaflippinglutely.

I haven’t yet uploaded my photos from my SLR camera, but have posted some pics from my phone (mostly from out and about in Queenstown) on instagram. It’s been an epic 10 days. I’ll write much more about it when I get home, so keep an eye out for that. I have so much to tell you about – and to show you.

For now it’s been a great weekend in Queenstown with hubby – who came over to meet me at the finish…and yes, I cried when I saw him too. I’m ready to go home and see Sarah and Kali (Adventure Spaniel), take my fitbit off for a few weeks, and allow my body to recover. Oh, and if I ever talk about doing something like this again, remind me that I said never ever again. Ok? Promise?

aerial view. Pic by a friend of mine.

Author: Jo

Author, baker, sunrise chaser

17 thoughts

  1. Oh my Jo, I had tears in my eyes reading that, it was so reminiscent of a particularly difficult day on my Base Camp trek. A brilliant well done to you, I know how hard these treks can be and I think we all underestimate what it takes. The Milford Track is HIGH on my list of must do treks and after your experience I now know how much training I’m going to need to put in. Again huge congrats for getting through it xx

    1. Thankyou so much. I was expecting Routeburn & it was so much tougher. That will teach me to underestimate the training required! It is so worth doing though- it’s not known as one of the world’s greatest walks for nothing.

  2. Oh my god, it sounds hugely challenging, but even more impressive as a result. I really have no idea what that sort of thing would be like but the fact it’s so emotionally exhausting is something I couldn’t predict.

    Well done you.

    1. I wasn’t expecting that either- although I suspect the constant rain added to that. On the other hand, the constant rain also made the waterfalls and the forest look so magnificent.

  3. I am going to ask you again in a month if you’d do it again. I live with a marathon runner – it used to be ‘never again’ after each one. Now they start planing the next one at the finish line!

  4. Yes to the fact that you did it…No to the idea of me ever doing it…and I applaud you for finishing dispite the challenges you faced. Thanks for linking up. Denyse. #lifethisweek

  5. I take my hat off to you! I know we should never say never, but I could never see myself doing anything like that. Also about your toenails – can I urge you to see a podiatrist for treatment to save yourself a lot of pain and suffering!!!

  6. It sounds absolutely Horrendous; and, That wasn’t in the Brochure!
    But tell me…did you have Yazz on the ipod? “The only way is up.. Oh yeah, hold on, (Hold on), hold on, (Hold on), Ooh ooh ooh the only way is up…”

    1. Lol- nothing on the iPod, but at one point a few of us spontaneously burst into a little Meatloaf & Paradise By The Dashboard Light…

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