Posting this trip fell into Patrick procrastination mode, as ski season got under way soon after we got home last November.
For my first non-winter trip to New Zealand we had 9 days. My first priority was to hike the famous Milford Track. http://www.ultimatehikes.co.nz/en/guide ... ford-track
. The setup is different from our experience the previous year in Patagonia. The guided tour is more expensive ($1,450) but with nicer lodges and meals provided (wine available for purchase too), also a drying room in deference to hiking in a rainforest. You can hike unguided for a bit less than half the cost. Shelter for the unguided hikers is provided because of the rain, but you must carry a sleeping bag and all your food for 4 days. Coming from the US with scuba gear for our time in Australia it was an easy call to minimize the camping accessories and choose the guided tour.
Our timing was fixed because of the eclipse trip to Australia, but November is a great time for the Milford Track. November and April are considered shoulder seasons with about a 10% discount, but more importantly the guided Milford Track sells out its 50 guided and 40 unguided slots far in advance for most December – February dates. Our guided group was only 17, so Liz and I had a bunk room to ourselves in each lodge and most of the time we were spread out, rarely hiking with other people but regrouping at lunch and a few scenic spots. Average high temps are mid-60’s F in all months except colder April and it rains about half the days in all months.
Day 1 is an easy day. After breakfast in Queenstown there’s a 3 hour bus ride to Te Anau, then a boat ride across Lake Te Anau, fairly typical NZ weather on the boat.
Getting off the boat it’s only a 20 minute hike to Glade House.
So we take a short nature walk with our guides.
He took a dip in this stream, but water was probably in the 40’s and it was starting to drizzle so none of us tried that.
We heard some hard rain overnight, but it stopped before morning. The second day is 10 miles mostly along the Clinton River. View back to Glade House from a footbridge.
With partial clearing along the river we could see that it snowed overnight higher up.
In the forest there is moss everywhere
There is a boardwalk diversion to the Wetland Walk with some flowers.
These little birds will come over and check out your shoes.
Eventually we emerge into the “Valley of the Perpendicular,” where the glacier cut walls rise up to 4,000 feet above. There are lots of ribbon waterfalls from last night’s rain.
We stop for lunch at a shelter with a view of Hirere Falls
Briefly back into the rainforest
Then more cliffs and waterfalls
We spend the second night at Pompolona Lodge at 1,300 feet, only 600 feet elevation gain for the day. View beyond toward 3,792 foot MacKinnon Pass which we will cross tomorrow.