Milford Track - Day 2
12 January 2018
The first day waking up on the Milford Track was a great feeling even with an early start, as today is a long day at 16.6 kilometres and I like to take it slowly with easy stopping to enjoy the scenery and the wildlife as I walk.
The rare NZ native Blue Duck lives in this valley and I was determined to see one, so any opportunity to look into the Clinton River while walking along involved stopping for a look, so there were many little pauses through the morning. This continuous stopping did get on Julianne’s nerves after a while but I can't help it if she is person most likely to spot something as she is a natural ranger.
The general landscape was amazing and I can see why people rate the Milford Track; the valley walls rise so amazingly high above you and the surrounding South Island beech forest is very different than the forest I am used to seeing in the North Island - the trees look huge and far more primeval – it’s like the valley is taking me back in time.
This second day involves walking up alongside the Clinton River towards the Mackinnon Pass, which is the high point which is crossed the on the third day.
I was quite surprised to find out from the Doc ranger that there used to be a phone line through the length of the whole Milford Track. This phone line was used in the time before radios for emergencies and I did so enjoy finding old remains of the phone cable along the track including an old red phone box! This was some strange unexpected NZ history.
Also for some strange reason there are mile markers along the Milford Track, so at every marker we had to stop and take a photo.
Around lunch time we stopped at a place called the Hidden Lake and there I found a pair of blue ducks in the distance! So I was very pleased, the Blue Duck hunt was over, and Julianne was also pleased as I didn’t need to keep asking her to spot Blue Ducks as we walked along.
I then spent a bit of time trying to get some photos of them. I also put my feet into the lake –very cold but so lovely on the hot sweaty feet, through I couldn’t feel my toes after a bit. The impressive high cliffs mean the was is actually coming of glaciers’ above us – that is cold.
After leaving the Hidden Lake, I spotted another pair of Blue Ducks which were a lot nearer heading up a little stream.
Just after 5pm we arrived at the Mintaro Hut at the base of the Mackinnon Pass. From down below, like everything on the Milford Track is seemed very high above us. Going through the MacKinnon Pass is tomorrow’s mornings main activity.
After dinner we had a bit of an explore at the source of the Clinton River which we have been following for the last couple of days, but there were quite a few sandflies – in fact there were a lot of sandfiles, and I mean a lot of sandflies and they seemed to be getting worse as we travelled up the valley.
Birds spotted on the second day were the Whio / Blue Duck, Paradise Shelduck, black shag and Kaka – all of which were added to our list of 13 birds spotted on this trip.