Once described as the finest walk in the world, the Milford Track is one of New Zealand’s most popular walks, with approximately 14,000 people completing the track each year and I am now one of them.
Throughout the Great Walks season, the track is heavily regulated. There is a maximum of 90 walkers per day and no flexibility on pace. Each walker having to complete the track in four days and move each night to the next hut along the track irrespective of weather or inclination. At this time of year, it’s all up to the individual, stay as long as you like and move as fast and in whatever direction you choose. Because of this I ended up alone in a hut on the first night!
To access the track, you need to cross Lake Te Anau to the trailhead. There were 11 of us on the boat and the other 10 had all decided to complete the track in 2 nights by skipping the first hut as it’s only an hour and a half along the track. So when the boat docked they were hot to trot on the track and I could only see the dust from their heels as I sauntered along. Got me thinking about all different reasons people do these tracks.
So even with my dramatic 2 minute side track to see a large red beech tree I got to Clinton Hut early in the day! Somebody very kindly had left moss and flint stones by the fire but my former girl guide skills were below par, so I just took the lighter from my bag to get it going. A leisurely dinner was followed by starting a new book while the birds outside had a good aul chirp.
Then it dawned on me, why it’s worthwhile stopping here. That’s the point. To stop. Slow down. Just enjoy the environment. Tomorrow I will walk some more but tonight I just sit in the stillness.