Giant Gate Waterfall viewing on the famous Milford Track

How to experience the Milford Track in a day

17 Apr 2017

If there’s one wilderness experience you could choose in NZ, make it the Milford Track. It really is all shades of beautiful! If you don’t have time for the whole 53km, do a Milford Track day walk. Being guided, it’s possibly even better than the full 4-day hike.

The track – what’s all the fuss about?

The 53.5km Milford Track hike is one of New Zealand’s most popular Great Walks – 14,000 people hike it annually! A bucket list item for most travellers, this well-formed track passes through the heart of Fiordland National Park.

The cornerstone of the Te Wahipounamu Southwest New Zealand World Heritage Area, Fiordland National Park is renowned for its remote beauty. The track itself has a rich history, and was one of the NZ’ earliest tourist attractions. A hike on the Milford Track today gives you a real sense of Fiordland’s early explorers, as you follow their footsteps in the search of an adventure.

In its entirety, Milford Track is a four-day tramp starting at the head of Lake Te Anau and ending at Sandfly Point in Milford Sound (you can only walk it in one direction). Suitable for walkers of all ages, it features huge valleys that are a result of glaciation over the last two million years. You’ll experience this World Heritage Area at its best with vast rivers, ancient native forests, sheer canyons and expansive wilderness. You can enjoy close encounters with native birds, some of which are endangered. From the sweet bush robin to the cheeky kea and the endearing weka, there’s plenty of birdlife to keep you entertained along the trail.

Take in the elevated view from the Swing Bridge

Booking a Milford Track experience

We love this place and would like to keep it in its pristine state for a long time to come. So our Department of Conservation (DOC) controls how many people hike this iconic track. A maximum of 40 independent walkers are allowed to start the Milford Track hike each day. And during the booked walking season (October to late April), passes sell out very quickly. Besides that, there are only three DOC huts on the walk and camping is not permitted.

Perhaps you’re a little late booking, maybe you just don’t have 4 days’ spare in your itinerary or the thought of walking 50 odd km is daunting? No worries! This is when a guided day walk on the Milford Track is the perfect option for you. Independent day walkers cannot access the Milford Track as a water taxi is required from Milford Sound, so this avoids any possibility of overcrowding. With a friendly guide to share local knowledge along the way, a Milford Track guided day hike is a brilliant way to get a taste of this beautiful hike. Day walks are ideal for travellers who are short on time, but fear missing out on something as awesome as the Milford Track.

Milford Sound itself is such a 'Must-See' if you're visiting New Zealand that it was included in Tourism New Zealand's latest video. Check it out here before you start planning your visit. It's hard not to get inspired!

Get in depth information about the history of the Milford Track

Milford Track in a day walk highlights

You can either meet your guide at Te Anau and journey together to Milford Sound on what is considered one of the most beautiful highways in the world. Or, you can drive yourself and meet the guide at Milford Sound. We strongly suggest letting someone else drive so you can enjoy the scenic route!

From Milford Sound, a water taxi takes you to Sandfly Point where you begin the 11km Milford Track guided hike with an intimate group of hikers. You’ll walk at an easy pace along the Arthurs River through lush rainforest to Giant Gate – a spectacular waterfall that is best viewed from the swing bridge spanning the river.

Your Trips & Tramps nature guide will point to birdlife along the way and talk about this track’s journey from a humble path to ‘one of the finest walks in the world’. Expect a generous dose of Kiwi humour and manaakitanga (hospitality) as our passionate local guides bring the history of the track and area to life. Sound like you? Learn more here.

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