Independent Guide to Hiking the Hollyford Track

Thu, 2016-01-28 14:10 -- KateNorris
The Hollyford Valley in Fiordland National Park a great walking experience

From the rugged coast to main mountain divide, this multi-day walk has options available for everyone wanting an independant hike in an amazing environment.

The Hollyford Track in Fiordland is becoming increasingly popular for those who want to experience a slice of Fiordland without the numbers of people found on the Great Walks.  Unlike other tracks in the area there are several different options for completing the Hollyford Track and you can choose as much or as little challenge as you like.

Trips & Tramps has been providing transport options for the Hollyford Track for several years now and have refined the logistics to take the hassle out of the planning.  Having an intimate knowledge of the Track, surrounding areas and operators means we can provide helpful information for when you make your bookings.

One of the drawcards of the Hollyford Track is the lack of vertical gain – meaning no huge hills to conquer!  Well, maybe just one, but at 142m above sea level it hardly compares to the 1069m of McKinnon Pass on the Milford Track or 1713m of Mt Luxmore on the Kepler Track!  Walking along the Hollyford Valley affords trampers the opportunity of keeping out of the worst of the weather found at higher altitudes (but don’t be fooled – there’s no avoiding a Fiordland deluge), as well as the beauty of a classic Fiordland valley and pristine river. 

Hiking the Hollyford Track

The Hollyford Track has a total of 6 huts for independent walkers.  This however doesn’t mean you need to take 6 nights – although that would be a nice, cruisy way to do the track.  We recommend people take 4 nights/5 days and find this to provide decent walking each day.  You can break the trip into longer or shorter days by missing huts or staying at more huts.  Having transported hundreds of trampers, and having done the track many times ourselves these are the options we have found that people take – I have listed them here in order or what we would consider to be the “best” way to do the track (with reasons stated!).

Trampers unloading at Martins Bay airstrip for the start of their tramp

Option 1 - Fly from Milford to Martins Bay and walk to the Hollyford Road end

Day 1:    Be transported from Te Anau to Milford Sound, stay at Martins Bay Hut. Spend the afternoon exploring this iconic and historic bay, explore the coast line, go seal spotting and wind down!

Day 2:    Walk to Hokurui Hut. (4 hours walking). 

Day 3:    Walk the Demon Trail to Demon Trail Hut (6 hours walking)

Day 4:    Walk to Lake Alabaster Hut (5 hours walking)

Day 5:    Walk to the Hollyford Road end.  (6 hours walking) Be collected and transported back to Te Anau.

There are several reasons why this is the “best” way to do the Track.  Firstly the flight is first – so we have communication with you and can advise of any delays or the needs to make alternative plans if the weather is not suitable to fly at the scheduled time.  If you walk the opposite way and find the plane can’t fly on the scheduled day due to the weather then you would need to wait it out.  (The plane flies every second day).  Secondly the days are manageable lengths, if you start missing huts it makes some days very long – up to 10 hours and other days very short (2+ hours!).   This option also means you don’t have to worry about any of the transport and leaving your car parked for several days at the Hollyford Road end. 

Walking the Hollyford Track in September

Option 1a – Cruisy option with flights and jet boat!

This easy option enables everyone to have a great New Zealand tramping experience whatever your experience or age, including children.  A great option for people on their first wilderness tramping journey, or those who just want to relax and enjoy the outdoors with a bit of walking thrown in! Note the jet boat may not always available so you will need to check out dates and availability first.

Day 1:    Be transported from Te Anau to Milford Sound, stay at Martins Bay Hut. Spend the afternoon exploring this iconic and historic bay. Get out to the seal colony, do a bit of rock hopping, walk towards Big Bay and peek around the corner.  You might even get to enjoy an awesome west coast sunset.  (2-3 hours walking)

Day 2:    Morning Jet Boat from Martins Bay Hut  to Pyke Confluence.  Walk to Hidden Falls Hut (2-3 hours walking).

Day 3:    Walk to the Hollyford Road end.  (2-3 hours walking) Be collected and transported back to Te Anau.

Demon Trail on the Hollyford Track is a challenging but rewarding day

Option 2 - Walk from Hollyford Road end to Martins Bay, fly to Milford Sound

Day 1:    Drive yourself to the end of the Hollyford Road.  Walk to Lake Alabaster Hut (6 hours walking).  You can stop in at Hidden Falls Hut for lunch on the way.

Day 2:    Walk to Demon Trail Hut.  (5 hours)

Day 3:    Walk to Hokuri Hut. (6 hours)

Day 4:    Walk to Martins Bay Hut (4 hours).  Spend some time poking around Martins Bay.

Day 5.  Walk to Hollyford Walks Airstrip (1 ½ hours) to be met by the plane about 10.30am.  We meet you at Milford Sound and transport you back to the Hollyford Road end to pick up your vehicle. 

This option is viewed as the “right way” to do the Hollyford Track as in the past there hasn’t always been the transport connections to walk it the other way.  The benefits of doing the Track this way are that you finish at the sea and have a scenic flight out including flying down Milford Sound – which is a pretty good way to finish after 4 days walking!  It is also slightly cheaper as you drive your own vehicle one way.  The down side of doing the Track this way is that you may be delayed (even up to a few days) if you can’t fly out due to weather.  But if you’re prepared with an extra couple of days food and happy to wait with the sandflies then it’s no problem!

For bookings and further details on transport see Hollyford Track Transport here at Trips & Tramps.

For more information on the track see the Department Of Conservation Website link

Frequently asked questions on the logistics of walking the Hollyford Track see our blog Your Hollyford Track Independent Walk Questions Answered!

Sunset at Martins Bay on the Hollyford Track