Units

Milford Track

Fiordland, New Zealand

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Overview

As one of New Zealand’s Great Walks, and arguably its most famous, the Milford Track will take you deep into one of the most stunning granite valleys in the world. Experience the alpine and fiord scenery that’s been thrilling hikers for more than 150 years.

Described as “the finest walk in the world” by poet Blanche Baughan, this 33.5 mi journey takes you to pristine lakes, sky-scraping mountain peaks and epic valley views. You’ll also pass by Sutherland Falls, the tallest waterfall in New Zealand.

Length
33.5 mi
Duration
4 days
Elevation Gain
4780 ft
Difficulty
Moderate
Best Time To Hike
Late Oct - Late Apr
Trail Type
Point to Point

Logistics

When To Go

It is highly recommended to hike the Milford Track during the Great Walks season (October 23 - April 30). During this time, facilities are actively managed, bridges are in place, and avalanche conditions are constantly assessed.

Hiking the Milford Track outside this period is still possible, but facilities are greatly reduced, bridges are removed, and heavy snow makes it a much more challenging trek.

How To Get There

The Milford Track is located in Fiordland National Park, which occupies the southwest corner of the South Island of New Zealand.

The trailhead can be accessed by boat from Te Anau Downs, 17 mi from Te Anau on SH94.

  • The track starts at Glade Wharf at the head of Lake Te Anau. Fly into Queenstown, take a bus (or drive) to Te Anau (2 hrs), take another bus (or drive) from Te Anau to Te Anau Downs (30 min), then a boat to the head of Lake Te Anau (1 hr 15 min). During the Great Walks season, there are three scheduled daily boat services (10:30 am, 1 pm and 2 pm) and on-demand water taxi services from Te Anau Downs.
  • The track ends at Sandfly Point. Take a boat to Milford Sound/Piopiotahi (20 min), where there are bus services back to Te Anau and on to Queenstown.

Permit

No permit is required to hike the Milford Track. However, you will need to make hut reservations during the Great Walks season. Outside the Great Walks season, reservations are not required; huts are first come, first served. See Accomodation section for more details.

Accomodation

Hut reservations are required in the Great Walks season. You need to book all three huts on the track well in advance and stay in each hut consecutively. See the official Milford Track DOC website for up-to-date pricing information and to book your stay.

Outside the Great Walks season you don’t need to book huts, but you do need a Backcountry Hut Pass/Tickets. Camping is not permitted on the Milford Track.

Know Before You Go

If you’re planning on hiking the Milford Track outside the Great Walks season, be aware that facilities are greatly reduced (no gas for cooking, limited water supply, no rangers or emergency radio facilities). There are also additional safety hazards to consider, including snow and ice in high areas, greater risk of avalanches, and bridges being removed to avoid damage from avalanches and flooding.

Links & Resources

Map & Trail Notes

Day 1

Glade Wharf - Clinton Hut

3 mi
341 ft
361 ft

After a boat cruise from Te Anau Downs (1 hr 15 min), take a leisurely walk through beautiful beech forest along the banks of the Clinton River to Clinton Hut, where all walkers spend the first night.

Day 2

Clinton Hut - Mintaro Hut

11 mi
1896 ft
531 ft

A gradual climb follows the Clinton River to its source, Lake Mintaro, at the base of the renowned Mackinnon Pass. Past Hirere Falls you will get your first view of Mackinnon Pass and the impressive Pompolona ice field.

You’ll be dwarfed by the sheer scale of the rock walls towering above on either side as you walk up the Clinton valley, and will pass through changing vegetation as you climb higher towards Mintaro Hut.

Day 3

Mintaro Hut - Dumpling Hut

8.5 mi
1923 ft
3576 ft

Climb to Mackinnon Pass and the memorial to explorer Quintin McKinnon, with exceptional views of Lake Mintaro and the Clinton Canyon along the way. The memorial is a great place to take in the awe-inspiring panoramas, before reaching the highest point of the track and Mackinnon Pass Shelter (3786 ft).

From here, you’ll drop steadily through an attractive alpine garden to the valley floor, passing several waterfalls along the Roaring Burn River before arriving at Quintin Shelter. On the way to Dumpling Hut, if the weather is clear, take a moment to admire Sutherland Falls in the distance.

Day 4

Dumpling Hut - Sandfly Point

11.5 mi
620 ft
981 ft

From Dumpling Hut, you’ll follow the Arthur River to the historic Boatshed. Further along the track, you will reach the dramatic Mackay Falls and intriguing Bell Rock. Admire the man-made rock cuttings alongside the Arthur River and Lake Ada, before spending the last 2 mi on a smooth, wide track constructed by a prison labour gang between 1890 and 1892.

A short boat ride from Sandfly Point will take you to your journey’s end, with world-famous views of Milford Sound/Piopiotahi along the way.

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