We did it!!!! Finished one of the nine Great Walks in NZ on Nov 7th, 2014 :) It was four days of intense hiking, covering 53.4km (33.3 miles) in Fiordland National Park in South Island. It is hard to say what we liked the most in this multi-day hike....was it the views, or the perfect weather (yes it did not rain even one day while we were hiking in the midst of rainforest....unbelievable!) or was it being away from every single distraction for four days. Whatever it was, we will be telling stories about it for our whole life now :D
The NZ Department of Conservation (DOC) only allows a set number of people everyday on these Great Walks....they are pretty serious and dedicated when it comes to ensuring safety of hikers. One more thing that impressed me about their department.
So, the group of forty independent hikers (including the two of us), from different countries and age groups started this hike on November 4th. DOC has really planned the tracks - each day we were to walk a certain distance, reach our destination hut for that day, recharge and start all over again. For almost four days that is what we did....walked, walked and walked. But the walking part was also not the same....first day was really easy. Second day was easy and fairly long. Third day was hardest as we hiked uphill about 400m in 2hrs or so and then climbed down almost 1000m on an uneven and rocky terrain. While going up was really exhausting, coming down on that track was surprisingly harder. And the last day....we walked endlessly, covering 18km in 5 hrs.
Our legs had given up by the fourth day. But our hearts were richer with unforgettable experiences. And why not? For three nights, we slept on bunk beds in a room with no heater and below freezing temperature. We did not shower those three days (thanks to baby wipes we all survived :P). The hut was serviced to the right extent....we had gas stove in the kitchen and freezing cold water. We carried our own food and utensils. There were no trash cans (on purpose) so we carried whatever trash we produced....something we should have to do everywhere because that is when we will realize how much waste we generate. And everyday we walked with atleast 12kgs on our back....let me tell you, it is not a joke. Just to clarify, all these things are not complaints....they added a lot of spice to our already spiced up hiking experience. It was amazing to meet fellow hikers after a long day over a cup of tea and share the stories. It was inspiring to sit and chat with a group of 65+ young at heart individuals who were going at a faster pace than us. It was heartwarming to see people from all over the world under one roof with so much passion and love for nature. We were proud, happy and excited on the last day....the four days exceeded our expectations about the track and our own selves :)
Hope you all enjoy the pics below....it was hard not to upload all of them :) If you are interested in reading more the track, here is the link - http://www.doc.govt.nz/parks-and-recreation/tracks-and-walks/fiordland/northern-fiordland/milford-track/track-description/
DAY 1 - 5 km, Te Anau Downs to Clinton Hut via Glade Warf
DAY 2 - 16.5 km, Clinton Hut to Mintaro Hut
DAY 3 - 14km, Clinton Hut to Dumpling Hut via Mackinnon Pass
DAY 4 - 18km, Dumpling Hut to Sandfly Point