Queenstown, The Milford Track and Drive From Queenstown to Hokitika
-You Travel Bethlehem Travel Broker, Jo Mayston.
Our Queenstown activities included a visit to the new Cardrona Distillery, a visit to the famous Cardrona Hotel, Shotover Jet Ride, Skyline Gondola, Ice Bar visit and drink.
Day one – We started from Queenstown, a two hour drive to Te Anau, to collect tickets from the DOC Centre. From there a bus which was approx. 45 minutes to the Te Anau Downs Jetty. Then we took a 45-minute boat ride to the start of the Milford track being Glade Wharf.
Day one is the easy day due to the long traveling day for most. It is a 5 km easy walk to our first hut at the Clinton Hut. A suspension bridge is a great photo stop to reflect the beginning of a bucket list trip.
The landscape, views of the mountains, waterfalls, pristine streams (you can see the trout which are large and fat, swimming quite happily).
On arrival at the hut, The facilities are good, during the peak season, the gas stoves are supplied, the water is fresh, and the bunk dorms are dry with plenty of room.
Note to take tea towels that dry quickly, and earplugs as there will be snorers.
Dinner consisted of Sausages, flake potato and dehydrated peas with French bread. We did take too much food, but I’d rather that than the alternative.
Clinton Hut to Mintaro Hut 16.5 km
Day two - Waking up to the view of juvenile keas chasing each other in the higher trees, it is fabulous seeing the birdlife.
This day is a good sturdy walk. We left around 8.30 a.m. which is a good and fresh time to start, as the days were forecast to be hot, and there is no protection from the sun in much of the walk. The first part of the walk was comfortable, the scenery starts to differ from yesterday, and there are a couple of little diversions off the track. The dead lake was a stop which was caused by a landslide in 1982.
The last hour was a good climb to our next hut which consisted of 3 huts. We were pretty happy to see the doc sign to say we had arrived. This hut is going to be replaced with a new one due to open the end of March. There is a swimming hole 2 minutes from the hut. Just be aware, you are in the alpine now, and the water is extremely …. Fresh …
We saw more trout (like below), eels, a grey duck, weka, South Island Robin, Rifleman. If you are a bird watcher, definitely a great day.
Lunch consisted of pita bread, salami, cheese, hummus and pesto.
Dinner - Bacon, flake potato and peas
Mintaro Hut to Dumpling Hut 14 km - Including Sutherland Falls side trip
Day 3 - This was the hardest of all days. I believe the track fitness requirement is talked down. No one arrived at the next hut unscathed. Sore knees, calves, blisters. Be prepared, and ensure your boots are strong, and well broken in.
We did the 1 ½ hour side trip to see (and swim in) the Sutherland Falls. The highest falls in NZ (worth it).
2 hours up continuous climbing to the Mackinnon Pass Shelter, and then 4 hours of downhill, some steep and very unstable. The views are amazing, you can view one ridge to the next, and the photos really don’t show how high up you have walked. That in itself is a huge achievement.
We were very very happy to see the Dumpling Hut after this long day. This consists of four cabins. There was a swimming hole which was lovely and freezing fresh again. A welcome attraction to put your weary legs into.
Dinner the last of the bacon and pasta packets
Dumpling Hut to Sandfly Point 18 km
Day Four - An early start for this day, as it is a long day, and our boat transfer was booked to collect us at 1.30. p.m. Most of the walk (thankfully) was flat, there was some climbing, but short sharp parts. It was interesting to walk through where most of the 2020 floods and slips had happened. The tracks had only re-opened in Dec 2020 after the massive amounts of damage had been caused in February 2020. The walk through the newly created tracks with destruction each side for hundreds of meters (and there were a few of these), made you appreciate the true scale of what had happened.
Tips: Take very good sandfly repellent, they are everywhere, the ear plugs are a must, as are good boots and socks.
At the end of Sandfly point, as there were 10 of us, we were able to be taken immediately back to Milford Sound. A welcome beer at the Milford Sound Resort before being returned to the bus stop to return us via the Homer Tunnel to Te Anau.
Tips: for food - Salami, Packet of dry pasta, milk powder, potato flakes, ensure you have good batteries, or a good power bank, as there are no plugs for charging phones or watches whilst on the trek.
The talks from the Doc rangers are also recommended, as they have tips and tricks which you will find valuable for your days ahead. They are also good with the weather reports.
We arrived back to Te Anau and had a night at the Distinction hotel. Being two, they had consolidated to one to save money (and jobs). This place is pretty quiet and feeling the pinch of no international tourists.
From here we continued on our road trip up the west coast. We stopped at the Blue Pools just out of Wanaka. We came across this sign (below). I just had to laugh about how obvious it was.
Wanaka is a delightful town, and extremely busy over the winter season. Lunch had, and then we continued to our overnight stop at a B&B in Haast, where we enjoyed the most amazing sunset.
A little sidetrip to Jackson Bay (where the seagull landed and posed for us), a lovely little fishing area, and great coffee.
We travelled via the Glaciers which were ghost town quiet.
Our final night stay in Hokitika. This is a pretty cool little town, where they are putting in some little quirky but cool touches. We flew out of Hokitika via Christchurch to return home.