Walking the Milford Track in south western New Zealand had been “on my list” for such a long time that when an opportunity to do it with some friends arose I jumped at it. Of course we did it the “gentleman’s” way – ie we stayed in catered, hotel-style bush huts and only carried day-packs; our overnight luggage being transported between the “Hutels” by Ultimate Hikes, our walks tour provider. Oh … and there was probably some wine in there each evening as well.
The walk started in Queenstown with a group meetup and the distribution of essential gear and an explanation of the walk. When all were organised and arranged we boarded the bus and headed for Te Anau at the southern tip of Lake Te Anau. Luckily for us, we were fed and watered before boarding a boat to take us to the north of the lake and the start of the walk proper.
All through the morning and lunch the weather had been getting progressively more foreboding. Now during the boat trip it looked positively like rain and a very cold, wet walk.
We disembarked right onto the bush track with a very fine sprinkling in progress as it tried very hard to rain on us. Luckily the first day’s walk was only 1-2km to get to Glade House, our first night on the track.
After settling in we were taken for a short guided walk around the local bush, to get acclimatised and to be told a bit about it. We were very lucky because it still hadn’t managed to rain properly, but it sure seemed to be trying.
No such luck for the next day. After a cold night we woke to a very cold wet morning. During short breaks in the clouds we could see that a small amount of snow had fallen on the tops during the night (this was the middle of summer!).
They say that the Milford track is at its best when it rains, and to a point, from our experience, that could be true. Rain and stormy skies seem to go with this country and just as well as it is one of the wettest places on the planet.
Our first full day of walking was rather cold and at times very wet but there were periods when the rain eased or stopped, allowing some photos and views. The country really does have a charm in these conditions…