Milford Track

The finish line

Facebook and Instagram are busy reminding me that this time 3 years ago I was in Queenstown getting ready to tackle the Milford Track. 

It had been a tougher than tough year and I recall feeling woefully under-prepared for the hike. In particular, I was fearful of Day 3 and the walk up and over Mackinnon Pass. If you’re interested I wrote all about it here. As it turned out, I was absolutely right to be.

Milford Track is known as one of the world’s greatest walks for a very good reason – it truly is awesome, but that day 3 nearly broke me, both physically and in spirit. I truly was that under-prepared. 

Don’t get me wrong, I had trained for the distance and coped with day 2 (16 kms) perfectly well. Day 4’s distance (21 kms) was hard, really hard – especially on the back of the day before – but still do-able. Day 3, though, was an entirely different story. Nothing I’d trained for prepared me for the climb up and, more importantly, the agonisingly steep, slow and slippy walk down in the driving rain. 

If you’ve read Happy Ever After, you’ll know that the experience inspired some (important) scenes in that novel.

Anyways, the hell of day 3 aside, it was a memorable tramp and one that is worthy of the accolades. It’s also a very achievable tramp – especially the way we were doing it – for anyone who has a good level of fitness. At least half the trampers on track with us were in their sixties (or above) and managed much better than I did on that horrible day 3. Plus, although I’d been to Milford Sound before, it was somehow even more awesome walking in and waking up to that incredible view.

I journaled the experience day by day and blogged the (unedited) words and photos so won’t rehash it all here. You can follow the links below to the posts…

Day 1 – Queenstown to Glade House

Day 2 – 16kms to Pompolona Lodge

Day 3 – 15kms and Mackinnon Pass to Quinton Lodge

Day 4 – 21 kms to Mitre Peak Lodge

Day 5 – Cruising Milford Sound and back to Queenstown

Okay, it’s Thursday so that means time to share what we’re loving about life. You know the drill, click on the link.

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Author: Jo

Author, baker, sunrise chaser

31 thoughts

  1. Wow! What an awesome hike! Your photos are gorgeous. Now I want to do it. Did you camp out along the way or are there places to sleep inside?

    1. There are 2 ways of doing it – as a guided walk (which we did) where you stay in lodges and only carry your clothes and food and water for the day. You can also do it as a “freedom” walker where you carry in everything and stay in DOC (Department of Conservation) huts. Milford is super popular and spaces fill up & do need to be booked.

  2. What a spectacular hike with stunning photos. I’ve heard about Milford Track and would love to do it. Thanks, Jo, for sharing this. #wellnesswednesday

    1. It’s a stunning walk. I’ve also done the Routeburn Track (& might re-blog that) which I thought was even more picturesque.

  3. Thankful for your lovely photos because I doubt I will ever see this corner of the world myself. Those white flowers – they look a little like lilies of the valley or snowbells or something. Just beautiful with the rain or dew on their delicate petals.

    1. Those little white flowers are a Mt Cook lily & they’re just beautiful. You get them in the high alpine regions. And yes, it was rain on their petals…it rained solidly for most of the hike…

  4. Well done Jo for finishing the tramp in challenging weather. From tramps I’ve done it’s hard enough without the rain. It’s a beautiful area of NZ especially when the sun is shining.

    1. It was quite something to round the bend and see the Sound in the sunshine, that’s for sure. I think we appreciated it so much more because of the rain we’d had. Although when the rain stopped and the sun came out, so did the sandflies…

  5. My husband and I walked the Milford track in our 60’s. It was one of the best things we have ever done. We did train beforehand but I agree the trek up the park on day 3 was a killer and on the day we did it at the end of January it was sleeting!. Visibility at the top was so bad we walked past the rest hut without seeing it. Luckily one of the guides was on the lookout and called us back. That hot chocolate sure tasted good!

    1. That was the best tasting hot chocolate ever. The week before we left it was snowing up there, but we just had rain…and more rain. The main track down had been taken out by an avalanche so at times it felt as though we were walking down waterfalls. Day 3 aside, it was a truly memorable experience.

  6. Gorgeous photo’s Jo and what an achievement and experience! I’d love to do it but I think Day 3 would kill me! I did the Brisbane Kokoda trek some years back – around 30 km’s which ordinarily I could do no problem but it was all uphill, something I hadn’t trained for and was totally unprepared for and it nearly killed me! Looks like a beautiful place you stayed at with stunning views. I really need to get my butt to NZ! #TeamLovinLife

  7. Absolutely spectacular Jo – but that track on Day 3 does look horrendously steep and slippery. Your photos are beautiful and the countryside is just gorgeous – but I bet it felt good to sit down at Mitre Peak Lodge and look out that window at where you’d been and to know it was done and dusted!
    Thanks for linking up with us at MLSTL and I’ve shared on my SM 🙂

    1. That was easily the best part of the hike…and the bath in the lodge that afternoon was the best bath I’ve ever had.

  8. Ah Jo, three years ago! Wow. I sure remember and I could feel the pain but you did it. Such a way to set scenes for your book but you are a determined woman and that was not going to stop you!! Denyse #mlstl

  9. Such beautiful photos Jo and I can’t believe it’s three years! I remember the challenge it offered up but know you also took something from that!

  10. Wowzers, it looks amazing! You’re a braver (and fitter) woman than I! I loved reading about the hike in Happily Ever After and these photos really bring it to life!

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