Milford or Routeburn Day Walk?

Jan 29th, 2009, 08:32 PM
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Milford or Routeburn Day Walk?

Has anyone taken either the Milford or Routeburn Day Walk with Ultimate Hikes? I have just 1 day available next week to try one of these but am having trouble deciding which one.

At this point, I'm leaning towards Routeburn because it sounds like the elevation will afford more commanding views than Milford. At the same time, the Milford Track is so famous that I feel silly not opting for that hike!

Any feedback one way or the other is greatly appreciated!
uahoops is offline  
Jan 29th, 2009, 11:55 PM
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Hi Mark -

I've done the Milford Day Walk and I've walked a portion of the Routeburn from both ends as a day walk. I've never used a guide though, I always freedom walk.

Personally, I don't see the need for a guide unless you'd just rather walk with a group and benefit from the local commentary or if you need transportation.

I'm not sure how far the guided Routeburn walk will take you, but the guided Milford Day Walk only goes as far as Clinton Hut, which can be reached in about 1:10 at a brisk pace.

If you freedom walk you can go considerably further - we walked an hour past Clinton Hut before we turned around and we were still the first ones back at the boat.

If I had to choose between the two, I'd no doubt opt for the Routeburn Track, as the views from Key Summit are spectacular. You can easily walk as far as Howden Hut (or further) before you turn back.

I'm really glad I had the chance to experience the Milford Track, but we had to turn back just as the track was getting interesting. The Milford Day Walk is certainly pretty, but it just didn't have the 'wow' factor of the Routeburn and it wasn't challenging, as the section covered in the day walk is basically flat.
Melnq8 is online now  
Jan 30th, 2009, 05:09 PM
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Thanks for the feedback. I guess the sense I got from reading about these various hikes is that you had to use one of the hiking companies (in this case Ultimate Hikes) to access the trails. Perhaps that is not the case. I think what you're proposing makes sense as it's a pretty hefty fee to pay for either of the day walks.
uahoops is offline  
Jan 30th, 2009, 05:30 PM
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I agree, do the Routeburn if you can only do a day hike. The best part of the Milford is in the middle, when you cross MacKinnon pass and the Sutherland Falls. Neither can be reached on a day hike. The Routeburn is also generally in better condition. I also agree that there is no real reason to use Ultimate Hikes, although they are a fine company. In fact what I might recommend is taking the cash you would have spent on the guided hike and using it for a one-way heliflight to or from Milford Sound. I walked the full Milford, and many of the others in my group were wowed by this flight even though they had just walked the track.
mlgb is offline  
Jan 30th, 2009, 05:37 PM
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Absolutely not!

Tracks in NZ are free to the public and there's no need for a guide. There are a few privately owned tracks in NZ but they're few and far between.

You must book and pay for the DOC huts on some multi day tracks, but that's it. There are no other fees, no park fees, no entrance fees, and no need for a guide.

I keep waiting for the day that NZ implements a fee system for their parks and tracks, but so far they haven't done so.

The Routeburn Track on the Milford side begins at The Divide carpark, so you'll need a car or bus transport to reach it.

The Milford Day Walk begins at Glade Wharf, which is only accessible via boat from Te Anau Downs. You have to pay for the boat transfer, and you'll need a car or other transport to reach Te Anau Downs, but there is no charge or guide needed for the walk itself.
Melnq8 is online now  
Jan 31st, 2009, 02:46 AM
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Thank you for the insights. So now I am definitely set on a Routeburn day hike. Now I just have to figure out where to start and how far I'll get in 1 day.

Melnq8 -- any particular reason you recommend launching from the Divide? Is is because it's more accessible than starting at the Routeburn Shelter side? If I do launch from the Divide, it doesn't look like I'll actually be able to reach Routeburn Falls in 1 day.

I'll have a rental car so I really prefer launching from whatever point will offer me the most scenic route for the 1-day hike.
uahoops is offline  
Jan 31st, 2009, 07:47 AM
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It sounds like you need a good map to the Routeburn. Here's a link to New Zealand DOC site on the Routeburn track ( ) click on track description to get mileages and a map.

From the Milford Road starting point (the Divide), an easy day hike is to Key Summit and back. Better hikers could easily make it to Lake Howden and return and strong hikers with an early start to Lake MacKenzie. The reason most recommend doing day hikes from the Milford Road is that at Key Summit, there is a spectacular view (in clear weather) of the surrounding mountains and you feel like you're on top of the mountains.

From the Glenorchy side and Routeburn Shelter, you climb thru the forests and can get to Routeburn Flats and maybe Routeburn Falls and back in a day (Routeburn Falls would be a 12 mile round trip). Although both are scenic, you will not have the sense of being on top of the mountains. This is the end of the trail that Ultimate Hikes does their Routeburn daywalks from primarily since it is accessible from Queenstown as a daytrip.

For a daywalk, I would also recommend the Routeburn over the Milford. You simply can not get to best part of the Milford as a dayhike.

KensingtonGirl is offline  
Jan 31st, 2009, 02:28 PM
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I suggested the walk from the Divide for all the reasons Kensington Girl mentions and because it's more difficult to reach the Routeburn from the Glenorchy side. To reach it from Queentown, you must drive to Glenorchy, (40 minutes) and then navigate some rough unsealed roads and fords. It can certainly be done (I've done it) but please be aware that it's probably a rental car violation and proceed with caution. The road to the Routeburn from the Glenorchy side can become inaccessible if there's been a lot of rain.

If you don't want to drive yourself, you can certainly arrange bus transport.

I didn't walk as far as Routeburn Falls, so I can't help with that, but I walked as far as the Howden Hut from the Milford side, and I thought Key Summit was fantastic.
Melnq8 is online now  

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