Hike into the Hollyford Valley
**Please note that due to a significant weather event in February 2020 damage has occurred to the Hollyford Road and Hollyford Track. Please contact the Department of Conservation or your guided walk provider for more information**
Within the lush and verdant foliage of the Hollyford Valley, you could be forgiven for expecting a T-Rex to come crashing through the bush. The Hollyford Track traverses a landscape that appears to be one which time forgot.
The Hollyford Track hike begins within the Darran Mountains and follows the impressive Hollyford River to Martins Bay. The track is often regarded as the ultimate mountains to sea experience and is easily walked in both directions. Hikers are rewarded with the impressive sight of the glacially-carved Hollyford Valley and also the chance to see kekeno / New Zealand fur seals and the rare tawaki / Fiordland Crested Penguins at Martins Bay at certain times of the year. The area’s most impressive visitors are the dolphins of Lake McKerrow who are famous for occasionally making their way from the sea into the lake’s freshwater.
For many, the destination of Martin’s Bay is the highlight of the hike. This remote and beautiful location at the mouth of the Hollyford River is one of the most impressive sights in the South Island, and is one which comes as a well-earned reward for those who have undertaken the hike.
Other highlights include the two lakes along the way; Lake Alabaster and Lake McKerrow, as well as the site of the now abandoned Jamestown; an ill-fated farming establishment from the 1870s unable to survive the area’s harsh conditions.
Hollyford River - credit Anja Kohler
HOW TO WALK THE HOLLYFORD TRACK
The Hollyford Track is a multi-day tramping track which can take four to eight days to complete. It is suitable for hikers with good fitness and previous hiking experience as some sections of the track are rough and muddy and not well defined. There may be unbridged stream and river crossings.
As the only major track in Fiordland found at low altitude, the Hollyford is a popular option as it can be walked in any season and is rarely cut off by snow. Regardless of this, hikers should always check weather conditions before setting off and ensure they are prepared for all weather events. There are areas of the Hollyford Track that are prone to flooding during heavy rainfall events.
You will find the starting point of the track (or the finishing point if you are walking it in the other direction) at the end of the Lower Hollyford Road (off the Milford road). It will take approximately two hours to drive from Te Anau to the start of the track. The Hollyford Track finishes (or starts) at Martins Bay and you can choose to fly by helicopter or fixed wing plane or walk back along the track.
The track can be undertaken as an independent walker but is also a popular guided walk experience. Guided walkers stay in different huts and have a value-added experience by way of accommodation and hosting, find out more here.
There are regular transport services available to get you to the track during the summer season. During winter, track transport will need to be arranged on an on-demand basis. Find out more about Hollyford Track transport here.
Alternatively, the first part of the track is a perfect overnight option for families or those looking for a shorter option.
IMPORTANT HOLLYFORD TRACK INFORMATION
Like all tracks in Fiordland, the Hollyford Track is prone to damage from heavy rainfall and hikers should always check weather conditions before setting off. Emergency equipment, including a personal locator beacon, should be carried.
Independent walkers need to arrange their food and gear, as well as transport to and from the start of the track. Walkers also need to arrange hut passes through DOC.
It is recommended you contact the Fiordland National Park Visitor Centre before you walk the track, always check weather conditions and ensure you are prepared for extreme conditions.
Find out more about hiking the Hollyford Track.