Milford Track - Day 1
11 January 2018
Milford Track is the most famous and the most popular of New Zealand’s Great Walks and is something I have been wanting to do for a very long time and last year I decided to just do it.
I found out that the Milford Track is so popular that it literality books out in a very short time; so early 2017 I kept an eye out for when the tickets sales opened.
So on the 15th of May 2017 I was ready and as soon the bookings opened I jumped online and tried to get tickets, but the DOC website kept crashing, after a few minutes of this I began to get worried, surely the Milford Track was not going to be like a rock concert and sell out before I could get tickets?
I then had a thought, maybe I could just phone DOC? So I quickly googled the phone number of the DOC office in Te Anau, and quickly phoned them and got through straight away. I booked for a trip in mid-January 2018, during the school holiday’s. I later found out that the whole session for the Milford Track sold out on that same day, how crazy is that!
As I have never been down to Fioudland before I decided that while I was down there I should make the most of it so I booked for couple of days in Milford Sound to relax and then straight onto the Routeburn Track which is very close by.
Why do one Great Walk, when you can do two!!
It took a lot of work and logistics, and it ended up being as complicated than my overseas trips, and it was a bit nerve racking booking so far in advance because I needed people to look after the boys for several weeks while we were away tramping. My original plan had been to spend the night in Queenstown or even flying out from Auckland and starting the Milford Track on the same day, as the first day is only several hours of walking – but I didn’t want to get caught out by cancelled flights or some other unexpected situation so we went down the day before and stayed the night in Te Anau.
But luckily it all came together, so many months later in January 2018, the boys headed up to Leigh for time with my Mum while Julianne and I jumped on a plane down for my first time in Queenstown, and I was only there for an hour before climbing aboard a bus to Te Anau for the evening.
I liked Te Anau, nice and quiet alongside this great lake and the town was larger than I thought it was going to be, very picturesque. So after a walk around town and a meal at a local pub it was time for bed in our hostel, and tomorrow after a lot of hard work and planning – the world famous Milford Track.
It was a relaxing morning as we had spent the night at Te Anau. I had arranged for TrackNet the bus company to take our food and supplies for the Routeburn Track. TrackNet will drop the supplies off to us after the Milford Track. This was something I had only found out about only a few days before coming down, on the phone to them. I’m so glad I did so we didn't have to carry food for both tramps straight from the beginning. So I walked down early to do drop off our food to TrackNet – I do so love being able to walk around a town instead of driving.
I had booked the early 9-30am bus – I figured I have come all this way, best to spend the day on the Milford Track, not getting to the Milford Track.
To get to and from the Milford Track you have go by boat, so we arrived at Te Anau Downs by 10.30am for the first ferry heading up Lake Te Anau to the beginning of the Milford Track. The weather was nice and the forecast didn’t look to bad. Milford Sound is the wettest place in NZ and one of the wettest places in the world. It is very common to get very wet and not see much when doing the Milford Track, so it nice to have the weather behaving itself.
There are only 2 ways to do the Milford Track, as an independent traveller through Doc huts or through a guided tour which costs thousands of dollars but they provide lodges with hot showers, bars and restaurants – and within 30 minutes we were at the first guided walk lodge; a very large fancy setup which as independent travellers we were not allowed to visit.
So we walked past this large lodge and just up the path was a swing bridge crossing the Clinton River. I of course had to stop and go for a swim. Even through the weather was nice the water was cold because it is glacier feed – but so very refreshing.
It was then a gentle 2 hour walk up the Doc Hut.
What really surprised me, and what became the highlight of the Milford Track was the wildlife, there were birds everywhere and I was completely surprised. Normally when walking in the NZ bush you see lots of great trees but it is generally quite quiet but the Milford Track was full of bird life. Within the first 2 hours I saw over 10 NZ birds including my first ever riflemen NZ’s smallest bird at only 8cm, and weighing only 6 to 8 grams and I saw over 10 of them! Julianne was of course the one who spotted most of them, she has eagle ranger eyes.
It turns out that there has been trapping around this area since 2000, and the wildlife is really beginning to recover and contrary to what people say the Milford Track does not have many walkers as only so many people are allowed on the track at one time.
And there are no other tracks heading in and out of the Milford Track plus there are no day walkers which makes a big difference.
On that first day we saw the brown teal, south island robin, rifleman, tui, kereru, silvereye, fantail, tomtit and weka.
We spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing around the Hut, I am doing some study at the moment so I spent quite a bit of time relaxing in the native bush with the birds around me while studying. This is a great way to study I must say!