My life in NZ in a nutshell – Part 3 (c): Hello, Milford Track!

Preface

Before the photo-feed, it’s the information feed! It’s a shame that I am only reading information about the track in depth when I’m working on this post :p When I was in Melbourne, I was too busy with my master studies; when I was in NZ before the walk, I had only limited internet access.

People whom I met in NZ, when they knew that I would be tramping (a vocab I learnt only when I was down under)/had hiked along Milford Track during the summer season (November to April) most of them gave responses like, “OMG! How did you manage to book it?” Our scheduled trip was from 10 to 13 Dec 11 and we did the booking on 29 Jul 11, which was 4.5 months in advance! But I met an American couple who tried to book 6 months in advance of their trip but to no avail. Tip to secure your place during summer season: booking for the following season starts on 1 July!

I walked this! :) Map grabbed from here

I walked this! 🙂
Map abstracted from DOC  NZ’s website

Diagram, also grabbed from DOC NZ's website

I survived this! 🙂
Diagram, also grabbed from DOC NZ’s website

Alternatively, if you are survival enough, you can opt to do the walk in winter season (May to October) when booking is not required and the hut are not staffed and facilities are reduced (you have to bring your own cooking stove, using pit toilets instead of flushed ones, etc.)

Excerpts from Lonely Planet:-

In the off-season, experienced trekkers can walk the track in either direction without bookings (hut tickets must be purchased). At this time there’s limited trail transport, the huts aren’t staffed, some of the bridges are removed and, in the height of winter, snow and avalanches make it unwise. It’s vitally important you visit DOC to check avalanche risk, as the geography of the valley makes it impossible to judge for yourself.

Oh, I forgot to mention! The information above and previous post about advance booking, staying in the huts, carrying your own backpacks and preparing your own meals for the 4-day hike etc is for independent trekkers, like my group. Another alternative if you fail to secure a place via the DOC booking system is to take the guided walk. Let me do the comparison for you 🙂

Independent walk Guided walk
Cost (NZD)* to travel during low season:1 – 30 Nov 2013 and 1 – 11 Apr 2014 $ 306.50*price includes 3 nights track accommodation at huts (bunk beds) and transport to and from the track

** refer this page for breakdown and more info

$ 1930*price includes 3 nights track accommodation & one night at Milford Sound (multishare rooms with bunk beds), transport to and from the track, meals, snacks, backpack, rain jacket, cruise trip at Milford Sound.

** refer this page for the breakdown and more info

Duration 4D3N 5D4N
Track guide No Yes
Breakdown of walking distance (km) 5-16.5-14-18 1.6-16-15-21
Showering facilities at huts/lodges No Yes. Hot showers some more!
Clothes washing facilities at huts/lodges No Lodges have hand washing facilities with soap powder and drying rooms
Meals Bring and prepare on your own, own cooking utensils Prepared by tour provider. 3-course dinners!

Some friends asked, “Why do you choose the hard way to see/reach Milford Sound?” Well, the scenery along the walk was so stunning that I had to make many stops just to exclaim, “AH-MAH-ZING!” Some scenery was so breathtaking that I just stood there in awed silence. But it could be due to the fact that I have very low awestruck threshold. :p So judge it for yourself: if you think the scenery shown in photos of subsequent post is too good to be missed, you know what to do!

On wheels or on foot, your choice!

On wheels or on foot, your choice!
Guess where I abstracted this map from? :p *hint hint*

Part 1: Rotorua| Part 2a: Goodbye Rotorua! | Part 2b: Hello again, Auckland! | Part 3: Hello, South Island! (a) Queenstown (b) Te Anau (c) Milford Track: day 1, day 2, day 3, day 4 | Part 4: zucchini picking | Part 5: last bit of travelling (a) inmate days (b) (c) (d)| Concluding remarks

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