Boat Trip on Lake Ta Anau
Having lived in New Zealand many years ago and loved the countries beauty, I decided to go to its South Island, which I had never been to before and walk the world famous Milford Track. The Milford Track is quite short only just over 50 kms, so I decided to add the Routeburn Track to the trip. For ease of booking, I decided to book the trip with a local company called Ultimate Hikes New Zealand and their Classis trip which covers both treks. In this blog, I will cover the Milford Track part of the trip.
So in November 2019, I headed off to New Zealand and after an overnight stop in Auckland, arrived at Queenstown. I stayed just outside the town itself and found it easy to get into the town by local bus service. I attended the briefing in the Ultimate Hikes venue and collected my rucksack. You had to carry your own clothes etc, but no food, only snacks.
On the first day, we headed off on a coach and drove to Lake Te Anau before boarding a boat over the lake. When we landed, we had a short walk to our first nights stop
Arriving at northern end of Lake Te Anau
at Glade House. The lodgings were great, this was glamping, beer and wine could be bought at dinner. The food was really good as well. In the afternoon we were taken on a short walk through the local area which was nice.
Day two was lovely with some some rain but beautiful crystal clear rivers and some dense forest which was nice. Thats nights lodgings, the Pompolona Lodge was great and an added bonus, which was at all lodges, was the clothes washing and drying facilities. You could also dry your boots out, which proved vital later.
Day three and the rain started in earnest. Today we were to walk over the Mackinnon Pass. On the way up the valley, the zig zag path was good, but the rain persisted. When we came into a more exposed area close to the Mckinnon Pass, the wind was blistering and the rain turned to hail. We were met at the top of the Pass by a guide from the next Lodge, who gave us tea, but being exposed and in the open at the top of the Pass and having to wait for the rest of the group was very
After the boat trip on Lake Te Anau, the short walk to the Glade House
unpleasant. We eventually moved on to the Pass Hut for shelter, lunch and a change of clothes. I later learned from another guide on the Routeburn Track that a wind chill temperature of -6 Degrees had been recorded that day. After lunch and a warm up, we moved down the valley to the Quintin Lodge. The way down was quite steep and with all the rain slippery. The benefit of the rain however, was that waterfalls were appearing and cascading down the valley walls, an amazing sight. When we got to Quintin Lodge, a group of us did a side track up to Sutherland Falls, reputed to be New Zealand's highest waterfall at 580 metres. Approaching the waterfalls the sound was deafening, like a jet engine running. With the amount of rain we had had, the site was very impressive.
Day four and the rain persisted. We were advised by the guides that we were to stay put for a while as the Authorities were concerned due to the heavy rainfall of the track conditions. After about an hour we were told we could move on and we started. The rain was constant and the track in some places
View across across valley at Glade House
flooded. We had to cross some flooded streams and divert around some fallen trees. We finally got to Sandfly Point were we took an open boat trip to Milfound Sound. At our accomodation at the Milford Peak Lodge, we were applauded as we arrived by an other group which had been stranded there. Apparently we had been the only group which had been on the track that day due to the conditions. A hot shower, meal and dry clothes was much appreciated.
Day five and we enjoyed a morning cruise on the Milford Sound. The weather was again poor, but did clear up later.
The trek was certainly beautiful and accomodation, food and organisation fautless. Obviously the poor weather conditions did impact the enjoyment of the trek, but in another sense it added to the whole experience. Would certainly go back to New Zealand to do more treks, but would steer clear of Queenstown which I felt was more of a party town.
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