Milford Sound, New Zealand

It was a Thursday afternoon in late November, around 2pm, when I realised that all of my friends were about to leave the country on some amazing adventures. At this time, I also realised that I had absolutely zero plans for my own holidays other than being a couch potato. That needed to change. So, spurred on by a mixture of pre-exam procrastination and my Mum’s constant nagging, I finally decided to book a trip to New Zealand to do the famous Milford Sound Trek.

Listed as one of the great walks in the world in just about every “Hikes to Do Before You Die” guide, I had some pretty high expectations heading into the trip. My Mum had done the walk a few years earlier with a group of her friends, and described it to me as “a new desktop background around every corner”. She wasn’t wrong. I can unequivocally say that the Milford Sound Trek lives up to its’ reputation.

There are two options when doing the walk – you can either do it with the guide company and stay in heated cabins with three course meals every night, or you can do it as a ‘Freedom Walker’ where it is completely by yourself. Given that I was booking all of this last minute, and Freedom Walker spots are about ten times as competitive to get as a uni sign on or the rush to get Splendour in the Grass tickets, I really didn’t have much choice. That being said, the guide company was definitely a good option.

I completed the 33.5mile (about 53.6km), 5 day trip (with 3 days of actual walking and a day either side for travelling to and from Queenstown) with a group of 28 people, consisting of four guides and some amazing people from all over the world. I was a bit hesitant at first about doing the walk by myself, but everyone in the group was really nice and we all became quite close friends by the end of the experience. We were treated to some seriously good food each night at the cabins we stayed in, as well as having a bar tab for the trip. Yes, it’s not proper camping, but I was hardly complaining when I got to have a hot shower and a cold beer every night.

Some personal highlights for me were the pouring rain and sleet with 80km/hour winds in below freezing temperatures as we crossed over the McKinnon Pass on the third day; seeing the Sutherland Falls -listed as the fifth highest waterfall in the world; and just generally all of the great conversations and life advice I got from the people on the walk.

The Milford Trek is honestly awesome in the truest sense of the word, and I recommend it to anyone who is remotely interested in hiking. If you have any questions for me about the walk, or you’d like to know more, feel free to comment below.

Hamish Litster