Milford Track Intermediate - Experienced
Submitted by Andre Chalmers
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Back country - remote
Point to Point (one way)
Native bushLakesideOpen tussock/grasslandsOpen ridges/tops
Intermediate - Experienced
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This route is part of the Tailwind Ultra Collection
The finest run in the land! High praise and to be fair there are some insanely good trails in New Zealand but you can't compare them till you have done this one! One of the few trails with no vehicle access, no cattle or farms, no houses, no hunters just pure nature and her awesomeness!
If you thought driving the Milford Road was awe inspiring....the track is the real experience where you don't just use your eyes....you feel.
This must be close to the hardest track to complete in NZ just from a planning perspective, there are only two options in the summer season, go South to North and walk it over 4 days 3 nights (which is not what wild things do) or run the whole 53.5 km in one day!
When running it in a day it can be done in both directions, the North to South option is considered reverse direction.
Only in the shoulder season does it become more viable to run with the possibility of staying in a hut to shorten the run length (best month for this is May, avoid October because of rivers and avalanches) so if you are an intermediate runner try for this option.
If you are a novice please don't run this track in a day, walk it then you will know what you are in for.
If you are more experienced go with a group of runners because you have limited time and sunlight and have to get to the other end for your boat (hence you should go in summer). Take a locator beacon and note this one is hard to do solo though certainly possible.
Note that there are many side trails to explore and sites to see such as waterfalls that you will probably have to miss, however advanced runners may have the energy and the time to do these at their own discretion.
Features of interest
This was historically a MÄori greenstone trail so has been used for hundreds of years.
This is also a rare bird sanctuary! Numerous sightings can be made of Kea, Weka, South Island Robin, Kaka, New Zealand Pigeon, Yellow Crowned Parakeet, Tomtit, Bellbird and Tui just to name a few. The really rare ones if you are lucky are the TakahÄ“, Blue Duck, Rock Wren and New Zealand Falcon. The alpine plants especially around the pass are very unique and worth a closer look when you have the time...
Make Up of Run
Untracked / Route only: 0%
Technical Single Track: 25%
Moderate Single Track: 25%
Easy Single Track: 50%
Farm Road / 4WD Track: 0%
Gravel Road: 0%
Sealed Road: 0%
The start point for a South to North standard Milford Track is at Glade Wharf. Pretty much the only safe way to get there is by water taxi (try Fiordland Water Taxis).
Note that you need to catch the boat from Te Anau Downs which will take an hour to head north on Lake Te Anau to the track start.
There is plenty of space near the state highway to park your car on the left at Te Anau Downs, if not drive down the 4wd track where there is plenty more space. You will probably need a rental car, get someone to drop you off or organise a bus ride but as you will want to leave at around 6am a car is pretty much the only sensible option.
Make navigation of this route super-easy by using the Capra app on your phone. View on Capra .
The Milford Track is sometimes described as a highway, the constant use makes most parts of the track easy to follow, watch for the many signs to help you. There are alternate avalanche bypass tracks to be aware of, when conditions are bad these become compulsory so be aware of them.
Several times rock flows make the path less clear, when crossing these keep your eyes peeled for markers. Both ends of the track are in a valley so stick to it, the only time you really get up high is when you go over Mackinnon Pass.
Once you get to Sandfly Point and the end of the track wait for your water taxi. It will drop you at Fishermans Wharf which is actually several kilometres from the normal Milford Sound parking area.
Take this into account if you have a car parked at Milford or you will have to walk like it did!
Waterproof leggings, Thermal leggings, Lightweight fleece top, Short-sleeved thermal top, Long-sleeved thermal top, Seam-sealed waterproof jacket, Windproof jacket, Gloves, Beanie/thermal headwear, Personal Locator Beacon (PLB), Whistle, First aid kit, Extra food for emergencies, Survival bag, Survival blanket, Cellphone, Compass, Map, Headtorch and spare batteries.
Plenty of water down low. Less once you get up high but there are some neat tarns at the top.
This track is so dangerous at some times of the year it gets closed. Winter is usually a no-no, spring can be really dangerous with avalanches.
Check with DOC and keep an eye on the weather.
The rivers can get high at any time of the year but become especially treacherous in winter conditions when the bridges get removed.
Watch out for avalanches, snow, high rivers and high winds. At several points there are steep drop offs so be careful in those areas.
Check in with the DOC office before any trip and check the weather and any current track issues.
When in doubt don't go (I postponed twice before finally making it on to the the track).
There is no road access so this makes the Milford a very remote track despite its popularity, if you need rescuing it may be hard for SAR to get to you.
Post run indulgence
Discover Milford Sound Information Centre & Café
Milford Sound Hwy, Milford Sound 9679
The closest food outlet to where you get off the boat at Fishermans Wharf. It may be late though so you might miss out.
Milford Sound Lodge
Milford Sound Hwy, Fiordland National Park 9679
If all you need is a drink and a bite to eat pop in here and check it out...much better than driving all the way back to Te Anau for a feed.
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See other runs nearby:
Lake Marian Meander
Whisky Trail and Routeburn
Caples Track - The Divide Version
South Mavora Lake Trail
Waiau River Loop
Deepest Darkest George
Henry the Hooligan!
Tour de Milford Haven
Te Anau Foreshore Trail
The Hollyford: Out and Back to Alabaster
Hollyford Road - Routeburn Loop via Deadmans and Pass Creek