The ranger’s warnings from the night before proved prescient and at 6am she was knocking on the bunkroom doors telling us to pack up and get moving. Day Four of the Milford Track takes you from Dumpling Hut to Sandfly Point. At 18 kilometres it is the longest day by distance but it is almost entirely flat so normally would be more of a five-and-a-half-hour stroll.
On this day things were a bit different. The rain was torrential, with lightning and thunder crashing overhead. The first goal was to get past the 28-mile marker. The section of track between 26 and 28 miles is the most susceptible to flooding. We walked fast.
It wasn’t long before we had to ford streams that had been trickles the day before and were now rushing torrents. Fiordland’s sheets of granite send rainwater flooding down into the valley. Our concern at the waters licking over footbridges proved an overreaction when we got to the really flooded section of track. We heard some squeals from the group up ahead and were soon wading through thigh-deep brown water, holding on to trees to keep us upright. A few people fell in but it was all fine really and within a few hours we were passed the danger point.
By the time we got to the lunch shelter the rain was lessening and by the time we plodded through to Sandfly Point it had stopped and I could enjoy the beautiful tree ferns of the Arthur Valley again.
There is an enclosed shelter because of the swarms of eponymous nasty little insects. That’s one good thing about the rain – it kept the bugs away. According to previous walkers the local sandflies are particularly annoying. In 1949 Elsie K Morton wrote: “…the brutes are draining the blood from our veins…Surely rain is coming!”
The boat arrived to take us back to Milford Sound. There are a number of boats during the afternoon and it is good to know that your boat tickets are transferrable between the different boat departure times.
Then all that remained was the fifteen minute boat ride, through the mist-filled fiords. There are awesome views of Mitre Peak and Bowen Falls was flowing like a hydro pumping station.
So there you have it, my amazing experience on the Milford Track. It is a glorious part of the world and a hiking experience that is accessible to moderately fit people. Take a look at my post on how I prepared for the Milford Track, including my packing list. And my post on tips for enjoying the Milford Track. I can’t wait to do it all again one day with Wandering Kiwi Jr!
By Natasha von Geldern
Have you walked the Milford Track in New Zealand? Did you get wet?
Many thanks to Carrentals.co.uk for helping me out with car hire for my New Zealand trip. Carrentals.co.uk is an award-winning price comparison site comparing car hire from over 50 different suppliers. One week’s car hire from Auckland International Airport starts from £17 per day with Carrentals.co.uk.