'The Finest Walk in the World'
Trip Start Sep 09, 2004
394Trip End Ongoing
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- William McHutcheson, 1892
7pm, Tuesday 28th February 2006
We are completely knackered. Today, we have dragged our heavy feet across 18 kilometres of undulating native Fiordland bush. We've chugged slowly across the breadth of the Milford Sound in an old transporter boat with the sun shining down on our tired and weathered faces. We've sat semi-consciously in the warm, sleep-inducing comfort of a Tracknet coach for almost two hours, snaking slowly along the scenically famous Milford Road all the way back to the Department of Conservation headquarters in Te Anau. We've just said our goodbyes and well wishes to Nick and some of the other trampers who've shared our once-only experience, and we've just walked along a lengthy stretch of Lake Te Anau back into the tiny township where we stopped, almost instinctively, at the welcoming outdoor seated area of a popular eatery known as 'The Ranch'. Having enjoyed a well earned hearty meal and a couple of cold ones outside in the warm sun, we've just been through the appropriate separate doors and groaned blissfully under the soothing hot showers offered by the Great Lakes Holiday Park - Brett & Sylv's place.
You could say it's been a long day, and as with all post-track experiences I'm feeling very worn and weathered. I'm also feeling wholly satisfied and pleasantly enlightened. It's been another unforgettable experience, a very rewarding one and one that I know will leave its mark indefinitely.
Though this entry is dated 24th February and seems a bit back to front, I thought writing the next few entries day-by-day, as they happened, would be the best way to outline the general experience. If you're planning on doing the Milford Track soon or at some point, this is a good way to give you a snapshot of roughly what to expect, though as we found out, anything can happen. For exact itineraries, check out the 'Milford Track' on the DOC website. For a more personal summary, check out the next few entries.
Originally used by the Maori people in their quest to gather Greenstone, the Milford Track was once the big link from the Fiordland to the rest of the South Island. Today, the Milford Track is one of the most famous walks in the world (certainly New Zealand's best known) and is experienced by around 14,000 independent and guided trampers each year.
Initially, this put me off. Overexposure can so often take that magic away and I was a bit reluctant to join the tourism statistics, preferring something much more unique, rugged and less popular. For many years however, the Milford Track has been regarded more as a soulful journey than a walk through the bush. This got my attention and gave me hope, and I soon realised that I might just be one of the lucky ones after all. I wasn't wrong...