The Milford Track is a four day tramping route through one of the most spectacular parts of Fjordland. Starting at the northern end of Lake Te Anau, it follows the Clinton and Arthur Valleys to end up at Sandfly Point at Milford Sound, 53.5km further. To continue to Arthur Valley after reaching the head of the Clinton Valley, walkers have to climb the MacKinnon Pass, named after the explorer who was one of the first Europeans to reach this remote area late in the 19th century. Tourists were walking the track within several years of MacKinnon's discoveries and the walk quickly gained a reputation as 'the finest walk in the world'.
The unique geological properties of Fjordland give the area a stupendously spectacular look, with valleys carved by glaciers and sheer granite cliffs rising more than 1000m on either side of the path. Water flows quickly, and the abundant rain (Fjordland gets between 7-10m rain each year) can turn gentle alpine rivers in raging torrents in minutes and create hundreds of waterfalls where there were none before. Walkers are advised to bring water-proof everything and that they should count on 2 to 3 days of full rain while on the track. Somehow however, I have defied all odds by continuing my dry streak (I had four days of sunshine on the Routeburn Track and a blue sky over Milford Sound3 years earlier) with again four days of beautiful blue skies and temperatures up to 30ºC (high 80s in F). On the fourth day clouds started to form slowly, only to give me a dramatic looking (but dry!) finish at Milford Sound.
To give an idea of the truly staggering amounts of rain that can fall here: in only the first 10 days of January 2009, over 1 meter of water came down from the heavens. That is almost twice as much as my home country the Netherlands (where a favourite pastime is complaining about our lousy wet climate) gets in an entire year.