4 Days 53.5 KM

Highlights

  • New Zealand's tallest waterfall
  • Spectacular valleys & rivers
  • Glacier-carved fiords

Proximity

GRADE: EASY - INTERMEDIATE

Best time: Late Oct to Late April

The alpine and fiord scenery of the Milford Track has been thrilling hikers for more than 150 years.

Find out how to plan for your Milford Track in the Fiordland National Park, one of New Zealand's Great Walks. 

1. Overview of Milford Track

Around 100 years ago, in an article that appeared in the London Spectator, the poet Blanche Baughan declared the Milford Track to be ‘the finest walk in the world’. 

Arguably New Zealand’s most famous walk, the 53 kilometre journey begins at the head of Lake Te Anau, and leads you across suspension bridges, board walks and a mountain pass.

The Milford Track will show you pristine lakes, sky-scraping mountain peaks and enormous valley views. It will take you to feel the misty breath of Sutherland Falls, the tallest waterfall in New Zealand.

On a sunny day it is postcard perfect but some walkers say that when it rains and torrents of water cascade down the steep mountainsides, only then have you truly experienced the magic of the Milford Track. And with 200 rainy days in a year and a seven metre average rainfall you're bound to see the waterfalls in full force. 

2. Walking the Milford Track

The fitter you are the more you will enjoy yourself, so a good level of fitness and strength is necessary. 

Find out more about the walk and what is involved; 

Day 1, Glade Wharf > Clinton Hut, 5km

The first day of the Milford Track involves catching a boat from Te Anau Downs to the start of the track. After a scenic cruise across the lake the well-graded track begins.

Walkers cross a suspension bridge then follow the track through pretty beech forest for an hour before arriving at Clinton Hut(opens in new window). There are a number of swimming holes near the hut. 

Day 2, Clinton Hut > Mintaro Hut, 16.5km

Begin the day with a gradual climb to the source of the Clinton River, pretty Lake Mintaro.

The track then crosses a large, open area and winds past the Hirere Falls before walkers a first glimpse of the MacKinnon Pass and the spectacular Pompolona Ice Field. It is approximately 2 hours' from here to the Mintaro Hut(opens in new window)

Day 3, Mintaro Hut > Dumpling Hut, 14km

Today's part of the Milford Track begins with a gradual zig zag climb to reach MacKinnon Memorial - make sure to soak up the spectacular views of Lake Mintaro and the Clinton Valley.

At the top of the climb, the track winds up and over the MacKinnon Pass, the highest point on the track at 1,154 metres. While catching your breath at the summit, look back on the stunning Clinton Valley. To the north lies Arthur Valley and Milford Sound - a view that is crowded with mountain peaks. From here, the track winds downhill, crossing beneath Mount Balloon and the Jervois Glacier before following a boardwalk beside the Roaring Burn River with its numerous waterfalls. 

Shortly after the boardwalk, a side track leads to the stunning Sutherland Falls - the highest in New Zealand. The 580-metre fall drops directly out of Lake Quill, which is fed by several glaciers, and plummets to the ground in three steps. After you've finished soaking up the beauty of the waterfall, it's a short walk to the Dumpling Hut.

Day 4, Dumpling Hut > Sandfly Point, 18km

The hike to the end of the track today includes a number of pretty waterfalls, suspension bridges and crystal-clear creeks. Take your time at beautiful McKay Falls and Lake Ida before hiking past the last waterfall on the track, named Giant Gate Falls.

After these falls it's another hour and a half's walk to Sandfly Point and the end of the Milford Track. Boats depart from here to take walkers back to Milford Sound at 2pm or 3pm each day.

3. Accommodation on Milford Track

There are three public lodges on the Milford Track (run by the Department of Conservation) as well as three private lodges, run by Ultimate Hikes.

Camping is not permitted on the track.

If you are hiking the walk independently, you will need to book hut online(opens in new window)

Bookings are essential during the Great Walks season from late October to late April.

 

Book your Milford Track hut

4. Towns near Milford Track

The lakeside town of Te Anau is the gateway to Fiordland National Park and the Milford Track.

Great restaurants, quality accommodation in a remarkable alpine setting make Te Anau a very appealing place to prepare for (or recover from) walking the Milford Track.

A few hours' drive from Te Anau is the bustling town of Queenstown, home to a large range of accommodation, wineries and adventure activities.  

5. Getting to Milford Track trail head

Transport must be booked in advance, there is no vehicle or private access to the start / end of the track. 

The Milford Track starts from Lake Te Anau. From Te Anau, take a bus or private transport to Te Anau Downs (30 minutes), then a boat trip to Glade Wharf at the head of Lake Te Anau (1 hour 15 minutes).

The track finishes at Sandfly Point on Milford Sound. Take a boat trip (20 minutes) to Milford Sound/Piopiotahi, where there are bus services back to Te Anau and on to Queenstown.

Book your transfers to the Milford Track in advance with these companies; 

6. Book a guided tour of the Milford Track

Booking a walk with a tour provider

There are a number of specialist tour operators who can aide you in bringing your Milford Track walking experience to life. Take a look at these businesses to find out if a walking tour is right for you.

Booking a walk independently

If you want to do the Milford Track or any of the Great Walks independently, you will need to book the DOC accommodation on the trails. The fee for this varies between each Great Walk. It is recommended that you book in advance for this popular walk.

7. How to prepare for the Great Walks of New Zealand

Five simple rules, also known as The Land Safety Code, to help you stay safe when trekking or tramping in the outdoors of New Zealand. 

1. Choose the right trip for you

Make sure the chosen trip is suitable for your fitness level.

2. Understand the weather

New Zealand's weather changes quickly, always check the forecast. If the weather is bad, wait until it clears or turn around. 

3. Pack warm clothes and extra food

Prepare for bad weather and an unexpected night out.

4. Share your plans and ways to get help

Tell a trusted person your trip details and take a personal locator beacon with you - these can be purchased or hired from local gear shops.

5. Take care of yourself and others 

Eat, drink and rest. Stay with your group and always make decisions together. 

The Land Safety Code

What to pack for Great Walks of New Zealand

Having the right gear is imperative when tramping in the outdoors. 

Watch this video(opens in new window) to find out what to pack and events to prepare for. 

Find out all you need to know about walking in New Zealand at Adventure Smart(opens in new window).

Find out what to pack

View Milford Track on the map

Department of Conservation

Click the link below for more information and detailed maps for this trail.

Milford Track(opens in new window)

Book your Milford Track adventure

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