Self Guided Walking Holidays & Cycling Holidays


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Milford Sound, icon of New Zealand's South Island
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Highlights

  • Walk the Milford Track, New Zealand’s most famous Great Walk
  • Cross the Mackinnon Pass and view the surrounding peaks
  • Cascading waterfalls, deep glaciated valleys and mystical beech forests
  • Cruise on sublime Milford Sound, the icon of the South Island
  • Te Anau, a peaceful picturesque lakeside town and the gateway to Fiordland

Retrace the footsteps of early explorers on the world-famous Milford Track, one of New Zealand’s Great Walks.

Follow this historic route through the Fiordland National Park in the South Island, which is part of Te Waipounamu, South West New Zealand’s UNESCO World Heritage Area. Walking on the Milford Track encompasses a mix of spectacular landscapes including valleys carved out by glaciers, mystical beech forests and tumbling waterfalls.

Stay in a variety of accommodations which enhance your overall experience including, a luxury B&B, DOC huts set in the wilderness and Milford Lodge, where towering peaks rise up outside your window. Enjoy a remarkable finale with a cruise on Milford Sound, which Rudyard Kipling described as, “The Eighth Wonder of the World”.

 


The Milford Track is an extremely popular Great Walk. We recommend that you try to book far in advance if you want to avoid disappointment. For example if you want to go anytime between October and April, it's advisable to begin your booking process at least 9 months before, especially if you want to go in January, February or March, which are the most popular times. Also since the booking season for the DOC Huts opens in the previous June, which is when a lot of the spaces are sold, whenever you want to go, please try to book before the booking season opens (i.e. before June for the following October to April).

Day 1: Arrive Te Anau and overnight

Arrive in the serene and charming town of Te Anau. This small town is the gateway to Fiordland National Park and situated in the south western part of the South Island, ringed by snow-capped peaks. It stretches along New Zealand’s deepest and grandest lake of the same name.


You can arrive in Te Anau by rental car (which we can arrange for you). The journey takes about 2H from Queenstown Airport. Alternatively you can take a direct bus from Queenstown Airport on an Intercity bus. (2H15).


Today your food and gear will be dropped off at your accommodation ready to begin the walking tomorrow.


Overnight: Te Anau


Day 2: Water Taxi from Te Anau Downs to Glade Wharf. Walk to Clinton Hut

Drive in your rental car from Te Anau to Te Anau Downs or take the included transfer bus (a short journey of 30 minutes). After taking a water taxi from Te Anau Downs to Glade Wharf (1H30), begin the Milford Track with a leisurely walk through a peaceful forest alongside the Clinton River. Cross over this river on a large swing bridge and continue on through the increasingly dense silver-beech forest.


As you pass the 4km mark look behind you and check out the impressive views over the Dore Pass (1375m). Once you reach Clinton Hut, offload your pack, have a refreshing cuppa and stroll down to the river to reflect upon your first day on the Milford Track. The wardens here offer information in the evening about the trail weather conditions for the next day.


Walk: 5 km


Elevation Gain: 50m


Overnight: Clinton Hut


Day 3: Walk to Mintaro Hut

Set off on today’s walk, again following the river, until you reach Clinton Forks. In 1982 there was an enormous landslip here and the evidence still remains as all the debris caused the river to dam and a small lake was created. Keep your eyes peeled and your ears open for the blue duck, endemic to New Zealand and whose females produce a guttural rattle-like call. Now Mackinnon Pass comes into view for the first time. You are now deep in the Fiordland wilderness. Cross Pompolona Creek over a very impressive swing bridge and continue through low scrub and ascend up to St Quentin Falls viewpoint.


The final stretch has you walking through dense forest before emerging at Lake Mintaro, which Mackinnon (New Zealand/Scottish explorer Quintin Mackinnon 1851-1892) originally christened “The Resting Place”. Spend the night at the Mintaro DOC Hut. Enjoy the camaraderie of your fellow hikers, no doubt an international group of interesting people.


Walk: 16.5 km


Elevation Gain: 335 km


Overnight: Mintaro Hut


Day 4: Walk to Dumpling Hut

Although today will be your most challenging as you will be ascending up to the Mackinnon Pass, it is also one of the most rewarding with awe-inspiring panoramas.


Set off from the Mintaro Hut and follow a series of switchbacks walking up to the pass. Be sure to stop at the top where your camera will be working overtime. Views do not get any better than this! Drop swiftly down to reach Roaring Burn, a stream with many beautiful rapids and streams. Spot historic Beech Hut, a reconstruction of a quite primitive hut from the early days of the Milford Track. The impressive Sutherland Falls can be accessed from Quintin Hut (where you may leave your rucksack) with a round trip walk of 1.5H.


Dumpling Hut, a light and airy accommodation with 40 beds is a welcome sight after today’s walk up to the pass.


Walk: 14 km


Elevation Gain: 554 m/1000m


Overnight: Dumpling Hut


Day 5: Walk to Sandfly Point. Transfer to Milford Sound

Follow the Arthur River until you reach the Boatshed Shelter and then cross over the river on another big swing bridge. Check out the amazing views over the valley half way over the bridge and continue on over Mackay Creek and to Bell Rock, a geological phenomenon and natural wonder. You can make your way into its tiny cave where water has eroded enough space to stand up in.


After a rest and discovery here, make your way up a rock shoulder in the valley before reaching Lake Ada. This lake was formed by a massive rock slip more than 900 years ago. Giant Gate Falls is an excellent place for a lunch spot, especially if you are ahead of schedule for your boat to Milford Sound. Follow the lake side trail all the way to the end of the valley and Sandfly Point.


A short boat ride (20 mins) from Sandfly Point brings you to the world-famous and magical Milford Sound. Tonight spend the night in the wonderful Milford Sound Lodge nestled at the base of the Darran Mountains and in the heart of the Fiordland National Park.


Walk: 18km


Elevation Loss/Gain: 75m/100m


Dinner & Overnight: Milford Sound Lodge


Day 6: Milford Sound Boat Cruise. Departure

This morning a cruise of the Milford Sound is included, plus a picnic lunch. This discovery 3H cruise is the best possible way to see this amazing part of the Fiordland National Park. Sheer cliffs surround you with frosty alpine peaks on the horizon contrasting with the blackness of the lake water. Stand underneath the most magnificent waterfall on Milford Sound, Stirling Falls. This cruise also includes a specialist nature guide who roams around on deck sharing their passion and knowledge of the history, geology and wildlife of the fiord. Also included is a visit to the Milford Sound Observatory, New Zealand’s only underwater floating observatory. It is a unique experience as you immerse yourself in this mysterious undersea world and encounter the extraordinary rare black coral and colourful sea creatures teeming just below the surface.


At the end of the cruise you can either collect your rental car which has been relocated for you or take the included bus transfer back to Te Anau. Whatever it is that you are doing next, making your way home, or staying on for longer, this life-changing Milford Track experience will not leave you for a long time to come.


If you do choose to extend your experience of New Zealand for longer why not book one of our other Great Walks, such as the Routeburn, Kepler or Abel Tasman Track. Ask your Destination & Adventure Specialist for more details.

Accommodation

1 Night in a B&B, 3 Nights in DOC Huts, 1 Night in Milford Sound Lodge. This tour has varied accommodation, both basic, in the huts, contrasting with comfortable on the first and last nights. You will need to be flexible so that you can enjoy both of these experiences.


Single Rooms & Solo Walkers

This trip is not available to solo walkers as the areas that are walked through are very remote and there is no mobile phone service. Single rooms are available on request on the first and last night and a supplement is payable.



 

 




Blue Ridge B&B - Te Anau

This B&B has 3 studio rooms, all of which are very spacious and beautifully decorated. Your unobtrusive, but willing hosts are only too happy to help you to maximise your stay in beautiful Fiordland.


 

 

 


 

 

 



Clinton Hut - Milford Track



Clinton Hut - Milford Track

This 40-bunk DOC hut has a communal sleeping layout and provides flushing toilets, wash basins with cold running water (but no showers). Also log fire heating, solar lighting in the communal kitchen area, cooking facilities with fuel, tables and seating.


 

 

 


 

 

 



Mintaro Hut - MIlford Track



Mintaro Hut - Milford Track

This 40-bunk DOC hut has a communal sleeping layout and provides flushing toilets, wash basins with cold running water (but no showers). Also log fire heating, solar lighting in the communal kitchen area, cooking facilities with fuel, tables and seating.


 

 

 


 

 

 



Dumpling Hut - Milford Track



Dumpling Hut - Milford Track

This 40-bunk DOC hut has a communal sleeping layout and provides flushing toilets, wash basins with cold running water (but no showers). Also log fire heating, solar lighting in the communal kitchen area, cooking facilities with fuel, tables and seating.


 

 

 


 

 

 




Milford Sound Lodge - Milford Sound

Relax in your very comfortable room with modern decor as you watch the sparkling waters of Cleddau River tumble by outside your window or gaze in awe at the towering peaks rising up above the lush temperate rainforest.


 

 

 

Availability

The Milford Track is one of the most popular walks in the world and there are limited places in the DOC huts. Therefore you will have to book quite far in advance in order to be successful for the dates you require, especially if you wish to travel in the height of the season which is Jan/Feb. The Great Walks season runs from October to April. To avoid disappointment please plan your trip well in advance. (At least 9-12 months). You must be certain about your preferred dates when you book as no changes can be made later. 


Please be aware that we will not be able to fully confirm your trip until the New Zealand Department of Conservation opens up the bookings for the DOC Huts, which generally happens in June every year for the following season.  Our local partners will make sure to book your space as soon as they are able.


This walk is not available outside of the Great Walks season to our customers for a variety of reasons, but mainly because outside of these dates the huts are not bookable (they are first-come first-served), do not have DOC rangers present and facilities are also greatly reduced.


Since the Milford Track sells out almost as soon as it is for sale, to avoid disappointment and if you are booking with not so much advance notice, why not try one of our alternate walks in New Zealand, such as the Routeburn, Kepler, Abel Tasman, Queen Charlotte or Kaikoura Coastal Track.


Time of Year

The best time of year to walk the Milford Track is in the Great Walks season, which is from October to April in New Zealand's spring, summer and autumn months. The weather will be more settled during these times of year, although it can be unpredictable at any time of year. Also when staying at the DOC Huts there will be a warden here during this time and also more facilities available.


Meals

Breakfast will be provided by your accommodation in Te Anau and Milford Sound Lodge. Dinner is also included at the Milford Sound Lodge and a picnic lunch on the Milford Sound Cruise.


Whilst hiking on the Milford Track a delicious and easy to prepare food package is included just for you with local foods which are full of great taste and satisfaction, nutrition, and minimal waste. The food items chosen are lightweight, as you will be carrying this food yourself.


Your food package will be delivered to your accommodation in Te Anau the day before you start walking the track. Also included in your  are cooking utensils, plates, etc in order for you to prepare the food in the huts, where there are gas cookers.


Grade & Terrain

Some sections of this walk are steep and rough, which is why it has been rated moderate to strenuous. However other parts (Day 2 and 5) are quite straightforward with not much elevation gain or loss.


The tracks are usually quite wide depending on the terrain – some fit two people walking side by side in flat areas.


The surface is usually gravel, rock or dirt, and like any track can get muddy and slippery in wet weather. Poor weather conditions can make this walk more challenging than usual, even in the Great Walks season.


Most rivers and waterways on these tracks have sturdy bridges. Occasionally there are also small streams that cross the track but are usually easy enough to step across safely. Be aware that in wet weather rivers can rise very quickly and flood the tracks.


Navigation, Route Notes & Maps

The Milford Track can only be walked in one direction during the Great Walks season. The track is well-marked and signposted so you should not have a problem finding your way. GPX tracks are also accessible on the Macs Smartphone App, so you can simply follow the route on your phone if you wish.


Baggage Transfers

On this tour you will have to carry your own gear for the 3-day walk on the track, including your sleeping bag and liner, included food and cooking utensils.  Given that most customers are likely to be taking part in this walk as part of other travels in New Zealand, we provide everyone with a good quality lightweight Osprey rucksack and cover for the walk as part of the package. You can choose to bring your own rucksack should you wish, but if you do so, it must be of a minimum 50 litres capacity. Since you will have to carry your own pack we cannot emphasise enough how important it is to pack light! Please note that we can arrange to have your remaining luggage stored for you during the trip for a small fee should this be required.


Car Rental

If you wish to rent a car please contact your Destination and Adventure Specialist.


Equipment

We can provide you with the following good-quality equipment locally if you do not wish to bring your own.


Adjustable Osprey pack and pack cover, Sea to Summit sleeping bag and liner, rain jacket and pants, cooking/eating utensils, first aid kit, inflatable pillow, hot drink thermos.


These items can be lent to you for your convenience and therefore you will not need to take these things to New Zealand with you. Please see your information pack which has more details on what to take with you on the track.


Travel Insurance

It is a requirement of booking this tour with Macs Adventure that you have suitable travel insurance which covers you for the activity and emergency evacuation and hospital care.


General Information

The distances and ascent/descents are approximations of the recommended routes. Please be prepared by packing all necessary items, for example, proper rain gear (jacket and pants), sun hat, sunscreen. Your information pack has a detailed equipment list which includes standard walking gear such as good walking boots or shoes, warm and waterproof clothes for the cooler months and lightweight clothing for summer, and a day pack. On this tour we can provide you with the essential equipment for this tour locally.

Getting to and from Te Anau

By Air: You can fly into and out of Queenstown Airport. Some international airlines fly into Queenstown, including Qantas and Air New Zealand. However you can also take a domestic flight from any of the larger airports such as Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch. From Queenstown you can either pick up a rental car and drive to Te Anau (2H) or you can take a bus. You can take a bus direct from the airport (2H15) but they only leave twice day. Check the timetable on the Intercity website.


On return you can do the same things in reverse.


* Please be aware that when booking flights from the UK to New Zealand you will arrive 2 days after you set off and on return you will arrive 1 day after you set off. So, for example, if you leave on a Tuesday you will arrive on a Thursday and on return if you leave on a Saturday you will arrive home on the Sunday. This is obviously because of the time it takes to get there but also because you are travelling back and forth across the International Date Line.  Similar principles apply when travelling from other places in Europe and from the USA and Canada. Please make sure that when you book you take this into consideration so that you are arriving on the correct day that the tour begins.


Included

  • 1 Night in a B&B, 3 Nights in DOC (Department of Conservation) Huts, 1 Night in Milford Sound Lodge
  • Personalised food package (for the 3 walking days)
  • Breakfast and dinner in Milford Sound, picnic lunch on the Milford Cruise
  • Milford Sound Nature Cruise (and a visit to the underwater observatory)
  • A transfer to and from start and finish points (by water taxi and bus) from Te Anau or car drop off service and relocation if you are renting a car
  • Gear and Food drop off in Te Anau
  • Information pack, Track information, Track Care Package
  • Quality equipment (i.e. sleeping bag and liner, rucksack, etc)
  • Access to the Macs Smartphone App with GPS Tracks
  • 24-7 Emergency telephone support

Excluded

  • Travel insurance (required)
  • Travel to and from Te Anau
  • Dinner on Day 1
  • Drinks and snacks
  • Personal necessities
  • ETA & IVL requests (mandatory as per 1 Oct 2019)

Extras

  • Single room supplement(s)
  • Additional nights
  • Rental Car

How far in advance do I need to book?

As the Milford Track is one of the most popular walks in the world and there are limited places in the DOC huts in order to avoid disappointment please plan your trip well in advance. (At least 9-12 months). You must be certain about your preferred dates when you book as no changes can be made later.

How fit do I need to be?

Some sections of this walk are steep and rough, which is why it has been rated moderate to strenuous. However other parts (Day 2 and 5) are quite straightforward with not much elevation gain or loss.

How do the baggage transfers work?

On this tour will have to carry your own gear for the 3-day walk on the track, including your sleeping bag and liner, included food and cooking utensils.  Given that most customers are likely to be taking part in this walk as part of other travels in New Zealand, we provide everyone with a good quality lightweight Osprey rucksack and cover for the walk as part of the package. You can choose to bring your rucksack should you wish, but if you do so, it must be of a minimum 50 litres capacity.

What equipment do I need?

We can provide you with the following good-quality equipment locally if you do not wish to bring your own.

Adjustable Osprey pack and pack cover, Sea to Summit sleeping bag and liner, rain jacket and pants, cooking/eating utensils, first aid kit, inflatable pillow, hot drink thermos.

These items can be lent to you for your convenience and therefore you will not need to take these things to New Zealand with you. Please see your information pack which has more details on what to take with you on the track.

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Macs Adventure - Head Office: Skypark 5, 45 Finnieston Street, Glasgow, G3 8JU, UK

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