The Milford Track is one of the best known hiking routes in New Zealand. This four-day journey crosses the mountains and temperate rainforests of Fiordland National Park, enabling travellers to retrace the steps of the early explorers who ventured into the magical Milford Sound.
Before European settlers arrived on the South Island’s shores, the Indigenous Māori people would travel to Milford Sound via the Milford Track to fish, hunt and gather some precious greenstone jade, also known as pounamu.
Destinations Unlocked:Let our travel expert Stefano help you find your perfect Culture trip
Looking for an expert's perspective?Uncover my top 3 recommended places from each continent on the map.
1. GuatemalaAn express adventure for those with limited time off. Prepare yourself incredible experiences. You will hike a volcano, visit mayan temples and witness a ceremony and take in beautiful colonial Antigua.
2. BelizeA quick trip not too far away for those seeking a relaxing mini break. You will have plenty of free time to relax but also some awesome activities to experience the rainforest and the caribbean sea.
3. MexicoAn exciting mini trip exploring the lesser known colonial towns of central Mexico. This is hte perfect trip for someone with limited time off and still wants to turn on explorer mode and do something different.
1. EcuadorA remarkable 8 days adventure through the Andes and the Amazon rainforest. The best choice for adventure seekers wishing to visit the 2 most iconic areas of South America, in only 1 week and no flights.
2. PeruAn alternative itinerary to classic Peru, from Cusco to Arequipa. This itinerary is great combination of highlights Cusco and Machu Picchu with the lesser known Arequipa and Colca Canyon.
1. ItalyThe ultimate Italian experience from the vibrant streets of Naples to the breathtaking sceneries of the Amalfi Coast followed by Matera and down to Puglia with its golden beaches, intense flavours and fascinating destinations.
2. ScotlandEmbark on this great adventure starting from London all the way to Scotland with a true Scottish experience made of breathtaking sceneries, whisky tasting and ..lots of fun! Ideal for train lovers and explorers.
3. PortugalA wonderful train journey around Portugal, from the romantic city of Porto to the Douro Valley, to the beautiful Aveiro all the way to Lisbon and Sintra. The perfect trip to train, culinary and culture lovers.
1. South KoreaDiscover incredible temples, mountains and modern cities on this 10 day adventure. This trip is perfect for those seeking immersion in the cuisine, culture and natural wonders of South Korea.
2. ThailandFrom Bankgok to Angkor Wat to Ho Chi Minh City and everything in between - adventure through the heart of South-East Asia. Taste the delights, see history brought to life and unwind on a Mekong River cruise.
3. Sri LankaA fantastic adventure that showcases Sri Lanka's fantastic landscapes, wildlife and flavours. With 3 epic rail journeys, 3 UNESCO heritage sites and time to relax, this trip has loads to offer at a great price
1. MoroccoAn epic journey across Morocco: from Casablanca to Marrakech, through the blue city of Chefchaouen to the wonders of the desert and deep to the High Atlas Mountains - this trip has it all! Ideal for true explorers!
2. EgyptFrom Cairo to Aswan, this trip brings the land of the pharaohs to life. You'll visit the Pyramids, Valley of the Kings and Luxor Temple and cruise down the Nile in style. This is the perfect way to explore Egypt.
After the first European settlers (re)discovered Milford Sound, word began to spread about its beauty; by the late 1890s-early 1900s the first hotel had been built to accommodate the growing number of visitors coming through the same walking route the natives had been using several years before them.
Fast forward to present times and the Milford Track has become known as one of New Zealand’s Great Walks: a status given to the highest-standard multi-day trails in the country. Others with that are part of this coveted list include the Tongariro Northern Circuit, the Heaphy Track and the Kepler Track, the latter of which also traverses Fiordland National Park.
As with all other Great Walks, the Milford Track has its on and off-seasons. Typically, the winter months (May-October) fall under the latter category as the route becomes more treacherous. You can still hike it during this time if you’re experienced enough to handle the winter hazards like slippery ice passages, avalanche-prone stretches and shorter daylight hours; but it’s also worth noting that in the off-season accommodation, heating and and toilet facilities become highly limited – and bedding is provided on a first-come, first-served basis.
Those tackling the walk during the high season definitely need to do some advance planning too. There are three huts on the Milford Track, but these need to be booked well in advance. It’s not uncommon for places to fill up as soon as the new season reservations are opened up to the public. Camping is not permitted around the Milford Track, so if you want to do the entire route, you do need to get your accommodation sorted out, pronto.
Now we’ve covered all the logistics, let’s take a closer look at the route you’ll be taking.
The Milford Track covers 53.5 kilometres (33.2 miles) and can only be walked in one direction. Your journey begins at Glade Wharf, which is located at the head of Lake Te Anau, and concludes by Sandfly Point in Milford Sound.
From Glade Wharf, you’ll cruise along the water of Te Anau Downs before you get to solid ground. From there, you’ll leisurely walk through the surrounding beech forests, along the banks of the Clinton River to finally arrive at the Clinton Hut – the first accommodation you’ll spend the night in. There’s no need to settle down right away: instead, spend some time exploring the wetland boardwalks and the swimming holes nestled around the hut. If you arrive on a late summer afternoon, a guided ranger might even take you on a guided tour of the area.
Day two sees trekkers departing the Clinton Hut and venturing towards the Mintaro Hut, a 16.5-kilometre (10.3-mile) trip that takes approximately six hours to complete. The trail starts with a gradual climb, contouring the Clinton River to reach its source (Lake Mintaro) at the base of the Mackinnon Pass. There are plenty of natural wonders to admire along the way, including the stunning Pomplona icefield, the towering rock walls that surround the Clinton Valley and the changing vegetation that comes into view as you climb into higher altitudes.
After spending the night at Mintaro Hut you’ll have your sights set on the awe-inspiring landscapes en route to the Dumpling Hut. This 14-kilometre (8.7-mile) trajectory comes with a trove of photo opportunities: a panoramic memorial site emerges as you climb to Mackinnon Pass, providing some great views of Lake Mintaro and Clinton Canyon. After you’ve spent some time admiring the vistas, you’ll make your way towards the highest point of the trek and the Mackinnon Pass Shelter. A steady drop through a lush alpine setting ensues, passing several waterfalls as you contour the banks of the Roaring Burn River before arriving at Quintin Shelter. A side trip just before the Dumpling Hut will enable you to admire the epic Sutherland Falls and Lake Quill from a faraway distance.
A five to six-hour, 18-kilometre (11.2-mile) trek from Dumpling Hut to Sandfly Point will finally bring this memorable journey to a close. This is also where you’ll gain some insight into the usage of the track throughout history.
First up, you’ll follow Arthur River to a historic boatshed; you’ll be able to spot several man-made rock carvings between Arthur River and Lake Ada, before reaching the powerful Mackay Falls and the ever-compelling Bell Rock. The final three kilometres (1.9 miles) of the trip consists of a smooth, wide track that was built by a prison labour gang in the early 1890s. From there, you just need take a short boat ride from Sandfly Point to Milford Sound – then it’s up to you whether you want to delve deeper into these remarkable horizons.
Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip
meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.