To mark the 125th anniversary of the opening of Milford Track, a unique hiking event has been organised in the place that was once described by London Spectator poet, Blanche Baughan as ‘the finest walk in the world’.
In the hands of experienced and knowledgeable guides, walkers participating in the commemorative heritage walk between 31 October - 3 November 2013, will have an added and richer experience as they delve into the history of this natural marvel.
The history of Milford Track will be brought to life as 10 heritage walkers - including five who are experts on the Track itself - reveal how the Track has evolved over the last 125 years into one of New Zealand’s foremost iconic tourism experiences.
Experienced guides will add a nostalgic element to the 53.5km walk, dressed in period costumes and telling historic tales mixed with real life experiences from those who know the Track like the back of their hands.
Evening talks will recount history, culture and current biodiversity work. Conservation efforts have recently seen the release of some of New Zealand’s rarest wildlife back onto the Track including pāteke / brown teal duck, and - scheduled soon to follow - the curious takahē, a flightless alpine bird that was thought to be extinct until rediscovered in the 1950s living in an alpine valley near the Track.
Walkers are also encouraged to take part in the celebrations and will be provided with heritage information and encouraged to dress in theme as described in the early guides, some dating back as far as 1890.
Now one of a series of nine New Zealand Great Walks, the Track route leads visitors on a journey of discovery through one of the world’s most diverse and spectacular landscapes.
During the walk, which takes approximately four days, visitors can expect to be captivated by the glories of Fiordland National Park - towering virgin forests, an endless panorama of snow-capped mountains, glaciers and valleys inhabited by rare and endangered wildlife.
Visitors on the anniversary walk will also have the privilege of experiencing the re-opening of the Sutherland Falls Track - a track that leads visitors to thundering Sutherland Falls, the biggest waterfall in New Zealand.
Jewel in the crown
The prize at the end of the Track is spectacular Milford Sound - described by storyteller Rudyard Kipling as the ‘eighth wonder of the world’ and a bucket list destination for thousands of international travellers every year.
Walkers who choose to go on the Heritage Walk - organised by New Zealand’s Department of Conservation (DOC) - will have access to all the adventures mentioned.
The cost of the walk will also contribute towards the redevelopment of the historic Beech Hut, which will provide an on-going legacy for future walkers to access the heritage element of the Great Walk.
Specialist walking tour guides Ultimate Hikes is also offering a special offer for walkers who want to celebrate this historic event during November.
Walking the Milford Track is an experience in itself, but the opportunity to learn about the history of one of the greatest destinations in the world will take the experience to a completely new level.