A four-day adventure into Fiordland
The Milford Track hike begins with a boat journey across Lake Te Anau to a remote shore in the middle of Fiordland. It is on this journey across New Zealand's second-largest lake, hikers first get a sense of the great Fiordland adventure before them.
Covering 53.5 kilometres (33.2 miles) of well-formed trail, the Milford Track takes four days to complete and can be walked as part of a guided experience or independently. In the 1880s, the Milford Track was labelled the "finest walk in the world" due to its outstanding scenery. Every possible aspect of Fiordland is on show here - glaciers, fiords, sheer granite mountains, lush beech and podocarp forests, majestic waterfalls and the chance to see rare birdlife. The walk follows the very same pristine rivers and alpine passes which were once traversed by Māori and European explorers.
For most kiwis, the Milford Track is a rite of passage, with some fit and adventurous children being introduced to tramping (hiking) on this iconic trail. For visitors to New Zealand, the track is a must-do and one of the finest ways to explore the unique ecosystem and geological formations of Fiordland. For anyone willing to lace up their boots, the Milford Track offers a glimpse into a grand natural landscape and an area of fascinating history. Once traversed by early Māori for highly-prized takiwai, a rare form of greenstone, the track was later used by intrepid pioneers who hoped to reveal Piopiotahi / Milford Sound to tourists.
The walk finishes at Sandfly Point, where you will take a short boat ride to Piopiotahi / Milford Sound.
HOW TO WALK THE MILFORD TRACK
The Milford Track can be undertaken as a guided walk or walked independently. Guided walkers stay in separate huts and have a value-added experience through accommodation, hosting and service while independent walkers stay in Department of Conservation (DOC) huts and carry all their equipment and food. Most hikers agree New Zealand’s Great Walk DOC huts are of high quality by backcountry standards. To limit the impact of people on this pristine landscape the Milford Track independent walk season (October-April/May) is operated by a booking system. The track often sells out quickly so plan in advance. The independent DOC huts take a maximum of 40 walkers and provide gas, running water, bunk beds and flush toilets, you provide everything else.
Guided walk options include transport, accommodation, meals, snacks and can often also include necessary equipment such as backpacks and rain jackets.
Independent walkers will need to arrange their food and gear, as well as booking a boat transfer at the beginning and end of the track. As the finishing point is in a different location to the start point, independent walkers need to make transfer arrangements to get back to their original starting point. Find out more about Milford Track transport here.
IMPORTANT MILFORD TRACK INFORMATION
The Milford Track starts at the head of Lake Te Anau and finishes in Piopiotahi / Milford Sound. The track may only be walked in one direction, Glade Wharf to Piopiotahi / Milford Sound (south to north).
The Great Walks season (late October to late April) is the safest time to walk the Milford Track independently. Walking outside of the Great Walks season is possible, but due to winter alpine conditions including avalanche danger it is only advisable for experienced hikers.
During the winter months, DOC removes gas and fuel from huts and some bridges (to avoid avalanche damage). Contact the Fiordland National Park Visitor Centre before you walk out of season, always check weather conditions and ensure you are prepared for extreme conditions.
FAQs about The Milford Track
How hard is the Milford Track?
The Milford Track is a multi-day hike that requires a good level of fitness and preparation. It is possible to hike the Milford Track independently or as part of a guided walk.
How long does it take to walk the Milford Track?
It takes four days/three nights to walk the Milford Track. Guided day walks and transport onto the Milford Track from the Lake Te Anau end are also available.
When do Milford Track bookings open?
Typically in June however this can be subject to change. Stay up to date at the DOC Milford Track website here.
Where does the Milford Track start?
The Milford Track can only be walked one way - from south to north, from the head of Lake Te Anau to Piopiotahi / Milford Sound.
Can you walk the Milford Track without a guide?
Yes you can! This is called independent walking. You will need to take all of your own food and equipment.
How do I book the Milford Track?
You can choose to walk the Milford Track as part of a guided group and the company will take care of all bookings for you. Or you can book an independent (unguided) walk through the Department of Conservation (DOC) here.