The Milford Track is New Zealand’s most famous hike and considered to be among the best in the world. What makes it so extraordinary? The trail offers the fullest array of awe-inspiring New Zealand terrain including varied rainforests, alpine Mackinnon Pass, and a truly grand finale: a finish at the foot of Milford Sound. Reservations are difficult to come by, but no individual hike better represents the totality of New Zealand’s natural wonders.
Milford Track Information
Distance: 53.5 km one-way
Difficulty: Moderate to challenging
Time: 4 days/3 nights
When to Go: Peak hiking season is from November through April; January and February are the busiest months. The Milford Track remains open during the winter but snowy conditions and avalanches are common; proper equipment and backcountry experience are required.
Conditions: Average high temperatures during the peak season range from 15°C to 20°C with rain throughout the year. Hikers should be prepared for mountainous terrain and cold, inclement weather.
Starting/Ending Points: The Milford Track starts at Glade Wharf on Lake Te Anau and ends at Sandfly Bay on Milford Sound. During the peak season the track only can be walked in one direction.
Transportation: Starting the Milford Track requires a 1.5-hour boat ride from Te Anau Downs (parking is available at Te Anau Downs) to the trailhead at Glade Wharf. The end of the track requires a 20-minute boat ride from Sandfly Point to Milford Sound Village where buses are available. Transportation and hut reservations can be booked online through the DOC. A private company called Tracknet also provides round-trip transportation to and from Te Anau and Queenstown.
Guiding: The Milford Track can be completed with or without a guide. The trail is well-marked and easy to follow with rangers on duty during the peak season. Guided trips are expensive (from $1,650 USD per person) but include cushier private huts, tasty meals, and baggage transport. For more information, see Ultimate Hikes.
Accommodation: There are 3 DOC huts along the Milford Track: Clinton, Mintaro, and Dumpling. Camping is not permitted along the route. The guiding companies operate four private lodges along the Milford Track: the Glade House, Pompolona Lodge, Quintin Lodge, and Mitre Peak Lodge.
Cost: DOC huts on the Milford Track are $162 NZD ($120 USD) total for all three. Day hiking is free. All-inclusive guided trips on the Milford Track start at $2,000 USD per person.
Reservations: Trips should be booked as early as possible (the Milford Track fills up months in advance for the peak season). Bookings can be made on the DOC website or at any DOC visitor center.
Services: Huts are equipped with gas cookers, running water, and flush toilets (no showers). Independent hikers must bring their own food.
Inside Scoop: The Milford Track is on the hiking bucket list with legends like Everest Base Camp, Torres Del Paine, the Inca Trail, and others. Try to throw out the hype and just enjoy the wild country in this pristine corner of the earth.
What to Do Next: If you have time, you can do another of New Zealand’s Great Walks. For a more urban stopover, Queenstown is a great place for some much needed rest after the trek.