The daily routine was up early, repack your backpack with everything you brought in, eat breakfast, make the daily lunch with cold meats, cheese, fruit, candy bars and cookies laid out. A little FYI: The current High Season (December 1-March 31) entire Milford Track package ran about NZ$1750/per person for a shared Adult room (around $1,300 US). There are daily departures from November 1 to April 18 every year.
This day was completely unlike our 1st day 20 years ago…no flooding…no submerged logs to fall over…no landslides…no misery… (one of these days is not like the other……). Hot and Sunny! And, it stayed that way through the entire day. It would be 10 miles to Pompolona Lodge and the first few miles, the old packhorse trail was flat and wide along the Clinton River. We passed the site of Quintin Mackinnon’s first hut built in 1889, a circular sidetrack to the Wetland Walk and everyone walked at their own pace, dawdled if they felt like it and took lots of photos.
It began to climb as it entered the west branch of the Clinton Valley. The track continued up through beech forest, past and over the rubble of a huge landside from the early ’80′s (that was our landslide) and a fast stop for lunch at Hirere Falls shelter. Hirere shelter was as far as we got the first time on the first day before being turned back.
No worries today. You could even see Hirere Falls from where we sat. Now through a clearing giving a view of Mackinnon pass, the past Hidden Lake, into the Beech forest, another open area called The Prairie (they said that rainy days bring out countless waterfall here…we remembered that well), and Pompolona Lodge in sight along with another great dinner – Baked Chicken with Roasted Potatoes for us – and hot showers. You could charge wine and beer along the entire route and settle up at the end of Track. No drying rooms for boots or clothes needed tonight and we never had to take that dreaded raincoat out of the pack. All meals were served in the dining room and each Milford Tramper took a turn standing at the counter, and passing the dished up food down long tables.