The Milford Track 1 Day Alternative…..

Day Walk Milford Track

Five Day Milford Track (Amazing) – But what are the options if don’t have the time but still want the Experience? There is one great Alternative…..

Five Day Milford Track (Amazing) – Options if dont have the time but still want the Experience?

Behold the Milford Track!

This is the view that confronts you walking down to Sandfly point toward Milford Sound. All the superlatives in the world have been used to describe the majesty that is Milford. If you cant sacrifice the five days required to walk the world famous track, then we have combined a guided walk and cruise on the sound that will give you great insight into this very special place. Last month I walked a section of the track to gain a better understanding of the experience on offer - I was pleasantly surprised.

Blog Map Milford Track Day Walk From Sandfly Point

Sandfly Point to Giant's Gate Falls - Milford Track: My companion was Andrew ‘Hiking Guy’ Wells, who was a Milford Track guide for over a decade - so I knew I would learn a thing or two. We set off from Deep Water Basin (Milford Sound) jumped on a small boat and ferried quickly to Sandfly Point. – Well what a view! I was already blown away.  

Milford Track Day Walk

The view from Sandfly Point looking back to Milford Sound

You could be forgiven for thinking you were meandering through the manicured gardens of a massive estate, such was the harmony of the surrounding foliage, but it wasn't, this is unadulterated nature at its finest.  If somehow recreated and entered this into the Chelsea or  Philadelphia International Flower Show's,  you would have an absolute winner. Dozens of little streams fan through this first section so you undulate over sturdy little bridges (no getting your feet wet here) under a canopy of vibrant green ferns and mosses listening to the Native birds calling each other. What I truly loved was the pace, unhurried,  we didn't need to get to a hut for the night, we were totally alone, traveling away from the tracks finish line - all other walkers in the vicinity had embarked on their final day of five and wouldn't be anywhere near our location until we had long gone. There is also a lot to be said for walking with just a day pack.  

Lower Milford Track

This part of the track follows the course of the Arthur River until reaching the picturesque Lake Ada. Here Andrew led us from the main track to a clearing where decades earlier a couple of 'old boys' (did he say ‘Winos?’) had taken residence, apparently keeping supplies fresh by offering trampers rowing tours of the little lake. The remnants of which were scattered under an old tree, perhaps of interest to a budding young bottle collector - this certainly won't be in any guide book.

The further we get into the walk the larger and more ancient the trees become, its all very 'Lord of the Rings' 

Lake Alda

Lake Ada

Soon the sound of cascading water over rocks drowned our tranquility, indicating the proximity of the impressive Giant's Gate Falls. This waterfall is best viewed from the large swing bridge spanning the river and offers an exciting front on photo opportunity, but to feel the full force of the falls, you take a sidetrack leading to the waterfalls pool edge and feel the spray directly on your face – don’t expect to have an audible conversation though.

Giant Gates Falls

 Giant's Gate Falls

Toilets on the Milford Track One thing that has always impressed me, and I have mentioned in previous posts, is the quality of the toilets found on New Zealand's walking tracks. The Department of Conservation (DOC) spends a small fortune building, installing and maintaining these conveniences. They certainly alleviate the necessity of scratching around like a bear in the woods and more importantly they help keep New Zealand as we like to say "Clean and Green" - 100% Pure Here is one of three we came across on this particular walk.

Loo on the Milford Track

Conclusion: For those short on time, this two and a half hour return walk certainly gives you some of the tracks highlights and may just entice you to come back to New Zealand to experience the full five-day trek. Being only a two and a half hour walk allows ample time to also join an afternoon cruise that explores the length of Milford Sound.

Some Advice: It was early ‘really early when we had to leave Te Anau to get to Milford - 05:30 am (some holiday huh). Perhaps we should have considered staying in Milford and I certainly recommend that you do, the more time here the better – but you need to book well in advance as there is very limited accommodation. Oh and for goodness sake, unless you absolutely have to, don’t do a day trip from Queenstown, it’s an 8 Hour return Drive!

A couple of wee pearls...

One - If you are driving, make sure you fill up with gas as it is a four-hour return trip from Te Anau and as I mentioned no gas stations.

Two - Regardless of what you are doing bring wet weather gear! Milford gets between 9 Meters (29 Ft) and 12 Meters (40 Ft) of rain a year.

Three - Winter driving, there is a good chance the road could close as a lot of that rain end up as snow and regardless if you caught without snow chains the authorities will turn you back snowing or not. The weather can be very volatile and change from one minute to the next.

Quick History: Quintin MacKinnon pioneered this as a hiking route in 1888 and was the first Milford Track guide. It wasn’t until 1964 that non-guided folk got onto the track. The title “the finest walk in the world” first published in an article by poet Blanche Baughan that was published in the London Spectator in 1908.

Advice: If you are interested in advice or booking any of New Zealand's great walks, feel free to drop us a line - it's fair to say that between us we have done them all and would love to help. If you are interested in hiking one of New Zealand's greatest walks yourself - just have a chat with us to explore your options.  

For Further Reading & Information

Great Walks in New Zealand
Best Day Hikes in the South Island
Best New Zealand Day Hikes – North Island
New Zealand National Parks – South Island
New Zealand National Parks – North Island

Tours You May Be Interested In

6 Days - 50 Shades of Green - Fiordlands Great Walks
9 Days - The South Islands Ultimate Day Hikes
12 Days - Milford Track & World Heritage Westland

First Light Travel's Hiking Tours


Brent Narbey
Brent Narbey
: 28 May 2019 (Last updated: 12 Mar 2020)

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