Fly out of Auckland
Auckland Travel Blog› entry 1 of 10 › view all entries
Having lived as an Aussie on the North Island of NZ for the better part of a year I decided it was about time I ventured down to the South island, just to make sure that the entire country had it's chance to insult me and my country's sporting achievements in 2005 :)
It's quite a task to select what to do on the South Island when you only have a week to spare, initially I had been considering every option under the sun (or rain-cloud as is the case for down there) Heli-hiking on Fox glacier, whale-watching in Kaikoura, the list goes on, however reality hit and I simply wasn't going to be able to fit the entire south island into 7 days.
A vague plan was thrown together which involved heading down there with my house-mate Bru for a few days in Queenstown to use gravity as our toy, after which I was going to head off to walk the Routeburn track while he attempted to climb mountains in the centre of the country. Like all other tourists planning to walk in that area, I had initially hoped to get on the Milford track, though upon checking the Department of Conversation website (www.doc.govt.nz) and seeing the track booked out until March I gave up on that idea. The Milford track is quite controlled, restricted to 40 independent walkers a day, and absolutely no camping allowed. There are also a number of guided walkers, of which you'll hear mention later in the great 'guidey vs indey' debate, however on any given day there aren't too many bodies on the track. Having read a bit more about the Routeburn track, and indeed seeing many testimonials that it was better than the Milford track, I wasn't too worried about having it as a fallback position
One pleasant surprise I had was, and I'm pretty sure I'm not exaggerating to say this is the first time EVER, for anyone ANYWHERE in the world, that I was able to actually use some frequent flyer points for something!!!! When I travelled around the world in 2003 with Star alliance I had ended up with a collection of points which I was pretty confident would never be used before they expired, so it was with great delight that I discovered I would be able to get 2, maybe 2 and a half, domestic flights out of them, woohoo! So flights were locked in, plans were set and I was ready to go.
So why is the title called 'Milford track' if I walked the Routeburn, well I'm glad you asked....as the days drifted by, I had begun to read over the lonely planet newsgroups in preparation for my mid-2006 round the world trip plans and I ran across the handy tip that there was a site called www.trekwatch.net which would send you email and SMS notifications if spots opened up on various tracks on the South Island. I thought why not, and signed up for the Milford track without any real optimism that a spot would come up, yet sure enough less than a fortnight later a spot leaving on Friday the 13th (coincidence ?) opened up. I offloaded my plans with the house-mate, dragged my brother in to the mix and the deal was done.