Milford Track Day 1 - Glade Wharf - Clinton Hut

Clinton Hut, Milford Track Travel Blog

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The boat drops us at Glade wharf, the guided walkers have their champagne carried over...

Lucky Friday the 13th, time to start walking the 'Finest Walk in the World', a tag I was to learn came from an article in 1908 but which seems to be conviently clinged to. Up early again, our body clocks were now fairly well adjusted to the sort of wake up times that were to come as we walked the Milford track.  Due to the late rearrangement that saw us get the afternoon bus down yesterday, we needed to pick up the track tickets before 11 or else they'd give them away.  I was kind of curious who would be sitting down at the Department of Conservation with all their tramping gear on, and a backpack, just on the offchance that a spot came up.  I guess it's the same kind of person who camps for 2 days for U2 tickets.

There was enough time in the morning to do a lap of Te Anau and find some tramping hire shops to loan me a pack cover and some waterproof trousers (to keep rain out, not due to bladder problems).

The track begins, only 53 km to go
After a repack and a venison pie (poor Bambi), we were down at DOC waiting for the bus with the other independent walkers.  Here we got chatting to a great American couple called Mike and Andrea, from Madison Wisconsin who would become our hiking buddies, whether they liked or not :)

About a 20 min bus ride took us to Te Anau Downs where we piled on to a ferry, with a driver who was surprisingly nazi like in his checking of tickets.  This was our first introduction to the world of the guided walkers ('guideys').  This is certainly not a classless track, as we independent ('indies') walkers were to see.  It is possible to pay about an extra $1000 to walk the track and this ensures that you have everything except your personal belongings carried for you(food/cooking gear/sleeping gear supplied).

My bro on the first swing bridge
  We had the pleasure of watching them load fresh bread and champagne on to the boat, knowing full well that we must make do alcohol free and with squished bread and stale bagels by the end.  This is not to say that the guided walkers deserved our wrath in any way, shape or form, they seemed to be nice enough people.  Though it is hard not to let it enter your mind at the end of a day's tramping to know that someone a few kilometres away is having a glass of white and a hot shower, not that I'm bitter :) To be honest, I think they got ripped off, I don't believe the benefits of guided walking justify an extra $250 a day, but then again it's tricky to justify paying $40 for photos of a canyon swing isn't it ?

So for at least the boat trip across we were all equals, some were just more equal than others :) Reality dawns after the 90 minute trip when you are encouraged to take off your boots to wade through water to reach shore (don't worry even the 'guideys' had to), somehow that frigid water makes you realise that tramping has begun.

Clinton hut, our accommodation for the first evening

The first day is not especially taxing, it probably only took about a kilometre before the pack cover and rain jacket came out, still that's 1000 metres without rain, I'm sure there have been people walk the Milford track with not even that.  For the record, the guideys can put their feet up at that point having earnt a good night's sleep.  Us indies trek on for another 4 km through some beech forest alongside a river.  So a nice easy lead in to the track takes us to Clinton hut, a fairly new facility since the old hut had been washed away by changes in river flow.  Our tramping group was one of the speedier to arrive so had a large selection of bunks to choose from. Then it's time to just relax, no phones, no email, no internet, just relax.

An obstacle blocks some of the great view from the helipad
Oh, and try to learn some Spanish, as you do.

There are some fantastic views from the helipad alongside the hut, hidden in amongst these mountains from which you half expect a T-Rex or two to appear.  All that was left to do was cook up some dinner, so the freeze-dried meals were broken out and tonight's selection of Spaghetti bolognaise was selected.  Our luxury was the ability to add a carrot to every dinner, take that guided walkers!!  Off to bed to learn the benefits of earplugs (always take earplugs to a large dorm-room, the sleep you save may just be your own)

skippyed says:
I'm booked on this trek for Dec 11th this year.. can't wait!! I'm going to enjoy reading your blog :-)
Posted on: May 15, 2012
vances says:
You describe your adventures exceptionally well! You'll have to visit the States and hike Mt. Katahdin some day to accomplish the 'Knife Edge' --- a trail that should pack all the adventure at a fraction of the cost (if you can cash in those frequent flyer miles!)
Posted on: May 31, 2006
Vikram says:
I'm already starting to envy you. I bought hop-on hop-off passes from Stray Travel which means I could've stayed here for as long as I wanted to, but I was only in NZ (South Island) for 2 weeks and couldn't dedicate 3-4 days for one activity. I hope to, someday!
Posted on: Feb 01, 2006
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The boat drops us at Glade wharf, …
The boat drops us at Glade wharf,…
The track begins, only 53 km to go
The track begins, only 53 km to go
My bro on the first swing bridge
My bro on the first swing bridge
Clinton hut, our accommodation for…
Clinton hut, our accommodation fo…
An obstacle blocks some of the gre…
An obstacle blocks some of the gr…
Clinton Hut, Milford Track
photo by: schner