The Smiling Journal

For all your creative needs!

Keeping My Holidays On Track

on June 10, 2012

Mom: Would you be interested in tramping the Milford track these holidays?

Me: Uhhh…

Mom: I’ll book you in.

And that’s how I came to tramp the Milford track.

The Milford track is one of the Great Walks of New Zealand. Its way down near the bottom of the South Island (its closest settlement is a small place called Te Anau), and weaves through the Southern Alps. It takes four days to complete, its 54km long (33.5 miles), and it has the most gorgeous scenery. What’s even more special, is that they only let 40 people on the track per day! Its a well-known track, so you’re competing against backpackers from all over the world. Exciting stuff!

Personally, i’m not that great fitness-wise. But this track made me forget all of that, and I actually loved it! I tramped with a group of people from an organisation i’m part of, and prior to the tramp we’d never met at all! We were all between the ages of 16 and 20, and there were seven of us (4 boys, 3 girls).


First off, we caught a boat across Fiordland, from Te Anau Downs to Glade House. It was quite fancy; we even got free tea and coffee! The trip took an hour and a half. Here’s the view as we travelled:

 (View From Boat)

Nice, huh? You ain’t seen nothing yet.

The first day was positively luxurious! A mere 5km hike, before reaching the Clinton Hut. Ironically, for the next day we’d be constantly crossing Clinton river!

We’d reached the hut so early, that we had oodles of time before anything had to be done. But of course, the rangers had already thought of that! On the wall there were two oversized hula hoops to play with.

Also, about a hundred metres down the track from the hut, there was a swimming hole (complete with a handmade sign)!

 (Swimming Hole)

After everyone arrived, we didn’t do anything worth reporting, apart from make dinner. The tramping day was so short that i hardly took any photos! Lets move on.


 (Crossing The Clinton River On An Awesome Swingbridge)

Like i said; today we’d be crossing the Clinton River many times. That was the first.

The distance we covered today was 14km. Quite a big step up from the day before! But it was gorgeous, so really, it didn’t feel like that long.

Most of the way looked like this:

 (Framed By Trees)

I really wanted to just sit and paint the beautiful views, but sadly I couldn’t.
Today the track wound through a massive valley – all day we could see massive mountains on our left, and more massive mountains on our right. Also, there was a massive mountain in front of us…

…which we had to climb over the next day. Its actually the lowest point we could’ve climbed over – called the MacKinnon Pass. However, we did have to climb about 200 metres up in order to get to our hut for the day, the Mintaro Hut.

Once there, most of us just relaxed. Sadly for me and my friend, everyone had taken all the bunks on the top floor! Our group was supposed to stay together so we could do debriefs, so to solve this problem, we grabbed two spare mattresses from downstairs, dragged them up, and slept on the floor. Lastly, while making my hot chocolate after dinner, I realised that my hot chocolate and milk powder could be used to make art… I just couldn’t help myself!

 (I Can’t Quell My Creative Side)


The second night, it rained non-stop! It just kept going and going, until we were sure we’d be stuck the next day. However, it did stop raining just as we got ready in the morning. Luckily for us, the rain had gotten the waterfalls going! Here’s one of them:

 (A Nice Waterfall)

And of course, when we got to the highest point in the tramp, it was cloudy! I still took this photo anyway (turns out the edge is less than 2 metres behind the sign – its a 500 metre drop!):

On the way down, when we stopped for lunch, a friendly weka came and said hello to us! Weka aren’t too smart, so they come very close to you and try to steal your food. This photo is not zoomed!

Fiordland is full of beautiful views, and the water is the clearest I’ve seen in my life! Great for reflections of the landscape like this:

We got to our hut and pretty much crashed on our beds – the tramp was really getting to us. But whats worse, the longest day was yet to come! Luckily, the more food we ate, the less weight we had to carry! We spent a while giving away all our spare food (for mother’s benefit, of course…)!


The last day, we had to get up and leave by 6am! Yet somehow, we were all alive and happy (but somewhat cold) as we left for the long day ahead of us. The reason we left so early, was because our boat home was due to leave at 2pm, so we had to hurry (tramping days usually finish around 4 or 5pm for us)! Luckily we made it on time. On the boat, we sat, relaxed, and ate the rest of our food because we could! It was so great to be done, that we didnt even mind the three hour bus ride back to Queenstown!
It was great fun to laugh at silly names we found on the map (such as Steep Hill – i’m not even joking), and i highly recommend this tramp! It was definitely one of the best experiences of my life!



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