Milford Track - Day 3
13 January 2018
The third day on the Milford Track is another long day with a 14 kilometre walk, involving heading up one side of the Mackinnon Pass and down the other side.
Plus of course I was interested in a side trip to the Sutherland falls, the largest waterfall in NZ at 580 meters.
So another early start with us being one of the first to leave the Mintaro Hut.
I had expected a hard climb up to the top of Mackinnon Pass, but I forgot I am on a Great Walk and even through the path did rise up 400 meters, at was an easy zig zag path – the easiest climb I have ever done in the New Zealand bush I would say.
Julianne got some photos of the alpine flowers as we walked along.
One minute we were in the trees and then suddenly we walking through mountainous terrain, it was a very quick transition from the beech forest to the mountainous terrain, where it was too high and cold for the trees to grow.
And all concerns about the weather and the high likely hood of rain were unfounded – it was another lovely day on the Milford Track and once I was at the top of the Mickinnon Pass there were amazing views for miles in all directions.
It was fascinating to look down below and along the high steep cliffs which I walked along yesterday.
We spent quite a bit of the time enjoying the marvelous outstanding views and of course taking photos. Most the walk has been quiet with not too many people around, but up on the Pass there were people everywhere which couldn’t be helped and didn’t really make the experience unpleasant as we were all excited and pleased to be up here.
Finally we had to drag ourselves away from the view and start the long 1000 meters downhill and there are still many kilometers left to walk. We had to descend from 1146m above sea level at the Mackinnon Pass, down to 100m above sea level at Dumpling Hut.
The journey down followed this large curve around a dead-end valley which I enjoyed, I could track my progress as you walked round this 180 degree circuit to end up directly below the Mackinnon Pass, looking back up to where we were only a few hours before.
On the way down Julianne spotted another rare bird which was on our list, the rock wren. We had a great look at the rock wren as it bobbed around amongst the rocks.
There was a very sudden very cool descent back into the trees – it was like descending into a living green organic tunnel.
Around 3pm we arrived at the junction to the Sutherland Falls, now Julianne was quite tired and ready for a rest, but I wanted to take the side route to go see the falls – so leaving her resting in a hut I went on for an extra couple of kilometres to the Sutherland Falls. The junction is located where the guided walkers have their fancy lodge, and they provide a simple hut with tea – very helpful but also gets us independent tampers out of view I suspect.
Sutherland Falls were an unexpected treat at 580 meters, the tallest waterfall in NZ and it seemed to just reach upwards and upwards. It’s hard for the photos to do the falls justice. I had a nice peaceful break and stroll round the falls. Some people were leaving as I arrived, and others arrived as I was leaving so I had the base of the Falls to myself for most of the time which was really nice.
By the time I headed back to Julianne for the 2 kilometers walk back to the main track, even without my pack I was feeling quite tired, and there was another 3 kilometers with my pack on down to Dumpling Hut – I’m clearly not as fit as I used to be.
I passed a quite few of guided walkers on there way to the falls, and it was very strange to smell soap and cleanliness on people while in the middle of the tramp. I don't think they were liking my smell so much!
At the end of the third day, the Rock Wren and Kea has been added for a total the bird tally of 15 seen on the Milford Track.