The Milford Track A Fairy Story
photos and words by Victoria Osborne additional photos by Felix Millar
In story terms, New Zealandâ€™s Milford Track is beautifully structured in four acts. In scenic terms, it wonâ€™t fit in the camera. As far as wilderness experiences go, keep your towel dry!
Once upon a time... we started planning for our April ‘09 trip. We’re Australian, and after reading the solemn safety advice described by the New Zealand Department of Conservation (DOC) on their excellent web site (www.doc.govt.nz), we decided we didn’t want to be known as the dumb Australian tourists who had to get air lifted off the track because of a twisted ankle. Prevention. Who to turn to? Who could help us? We joined the Victorian National Parks Association (VNPA). This worthy institution runs a bushwalking activity group out of Melbourne. These dedicated walkers and environmental advocates have years of experience amongst them and we tapped them like rubber trees. Not only fitness is required for the Milford, but some sort of bush sense is The Werribbee Gorge State park in Victoria was dry. Rabbit pooh, sheep skulls and a howling gale made our walk memorable.
imperative. Knowing what to wear can be a matter of life and death. The type of gear
The Brisbane Ranges National Park in Victoria endured a bush fire in 2007. It’s still recovering. The walk is dry, rocky and suffers from root rot.
available in those big camping shops is confusing and the best advice you can get is right there next to you when you go for a few short day walks with a bushwalking club. There’s bush knowledge about blisters and recipes for scroggin and suitable quick drying fabric and trimming your toe nails that you’d never know if you’re just talking to salespeople. Regular bushwalkers love their particular trousers or leg warmers or gaiters or hats for their own personal reasons. (As far as our personal preferences go, I’m not going to advertise but there is a New Zealand company working in merino you might be interested in exploring. If you were to travel through the Antarctic in a boat encountering frozen waters you might require one of these. Some of their products are essential for your comfort though I haven’t tried the underpants. Yet.)
There is also the notion of the Alpine walking pole. If used correctly two of these light, telescoping sticks can support up to forty percent of your body weight. One stick will assist you in balance, checking the depth of streams and prodding relatives for another piece of chocolate when you can no longer speak. The oldest walkers in the VNPA, some we suspect to be on the wiser end of their seventies, are terrific advertisements for walking â€“ beating young whippersnappers half their age â€“ whilst carrying tents and food on overnight walks. One gentleman we met explained it was not only the exercise and the careful placing
We walked along the Razorback to the top of Mount Feathertop in Victoria. It is glorious and it is dry.
of feet that kept you alert and vibrant, it was regularly breathing clean air deep into your gasping lungs.
There is no doubt that building fitness does allow you to
enjoy the walk. Itâ€™s difficult to gasp at break-taking scenery when your breath has already been taken and your legs are jelly.
The Milford Track is 53.5 kilometres long. It is carefully
regulated and your three nights on the track are monitored and inevitable. You may not camp there. Over fourteen thousand people march over those paths and rocks every year so if you decide to stop you could well cause a nasty human traffic jam. Because it is one way, however, most of your time on the track is with company of your own choosing. That could be a beloved person, a new-found friend who does not speak English or you could find yourself communing with dazzling flora and fauna. These wilderness experiences are spell binding and if you let yourself relax and breathe and stop taking photos every now and then to listen and wonder, you will be stilled with incredulity. You may as well take your time to experience this beauty because what are you going to do when you get to the hut? Eat and sleep. And wash. In the water. Lots and lots of water. Thereâ€™s plenty of water on the track, beside the track and there are
is full of
swimming holes at every hut â€“ though personally â€“ itâ€™s getting a bit cold in April.
My husband thinks there should be more words for the
descriptions of water. We heard water plinking, splooshing, whooshing, dripping, showering, flushing, hosing, kerplunking, fissing, cascading, crashing and thundering. Coming from Melbourne the amount of water is mindboggling. It will rain during your time in Milford. There is nothing more certain. We heard anecdotally Milford can have anything up to 15 metres of rainfall annually but 9 metres is entirely normal. Melbourne, of course, enjoys about 9 millimetres per annum.
On the track, water clings in tiny droplets to mosses
hanging from verdant trees. Water curls in tendrils around gentle quiet rocks. Water silently glides in wide river stealth and
The Clinton River
Lake Te Anau
waterfalls fountain, gush and pour into pounding rock canyons and giant teeth fissures.
From the moment you embark on your bus trip from DOC
beside mystical (and hydro powering) Lake Te Anau to Te Anau Downs to catch the ferry to the beginning of the track, water flows everywhere, guiding you into some kind of aquabliss. One should note, however, that where there is running water, there is also a flight of anti-concord. It is of course, namu (sandflies). This tiny cloud of stinging menace is trouble. One must prepare. If you know you are a tender flower, easily irritated by insect sting, it is worth stocking up on a course of vitamin B at least a month before travel. It is controversial, but I found it worked for me. I am a sensitive creature and I definitely avoided
being bitten too severely this time. We also carried three different types of insect repellent because, as you may know, everyone is different. This is no more in evidence than in the effect sandflies have on different individuals.
One of the great pleasures of embarking upon a Great
Walk (and there is no doubt that the Milford Track is indeed a Great Walk of the World) is the fact you will not be alone. You will be joined by human representatives of many of the worldsâ€™ nations; each of whom will have different reactions to the sandflies. Marvellous. Namu. The great leveller.
Namu were admired by our Maori forebears who used the
track to seek out and trade pounamou (greenstone). The sandfly was described as a creature who would not allow anyone to sit down and relax when they should be getting on and moving some more pounamou. Another driving force behind the need to keep moving on the Track.
So, you’ve caught the bus and you’ve embarked on a
gorgeous cruise across a lake surrounded by many hills and been surrounded by breathtaking scenery even before you step out on to the path. It’s already gorgeous. You’re glad you came. Absolutely. And now the Milford Track lies before you.
We step out onto Glade Wharf to wash our boots in
detergent to prevent the spread of didymo – a foul soggy toilet paper looking algae (nicknamed rock snot) that wraps itself around rocks and propellers and is spreading through the New Zealand waterways. So far, the rivers and valleys of the track are clean. We’re already used to washing our boots, of course. Our membership in the VNPA had introduced us to the frightening Phytophthora cinnamomi, or root rot fungus that is devastating some Australian native plants. In Victoria, we are encouraged to wash our boots with a simple mixture of metho and water to kill any spores after walking in affected areas. (Plus the energetic customs officers in Christchurch carefully steam cleaned our boots, a semi religious experience we didn’t care to repeat on our return to Australia so we scrubbed them thoroughly in our Christchurch cousins’ laundry before heading out on the return trip to the airport!) 10
Act One Here we are at the beginning of the track. A wide soft peaty path, lined by Arthur Rackham fairy-story trees, meanders enticingly into the distance. The beech trees drip with moss and greenness and endless possibilities. The very sensible DOC sign announcing the start of Milford Track seems to glisten with hope and shiny wonder. We set out with rising joy in our hearts.
Felix, our fourteen-year old son, already out in front, has
befriended some backpackers and quickly establishes himself as an independent person.
My husband, Philip, and I are celebrating our
seventeenth wedding anniversary and settle down for a romantic stroll into magic land as a couple once more. The other passengers from our boat disappear from view and the track opens out in front of us. Cheeky grey and white miro miro (or strictly, ngirungiru in the South Island) (tomtits) with sparkly black eyes flitter down from the beech forest to greet us. ‘Follow me,’ they each twitter. ‘This way, this is your path, this is the way of wonder…’
And you, fascinated, follow their curious flirtatious
tiny glances and fanciful patters and twirls of feathers. You seem to float down the curving gentle path. Suddenly the way opens out into a mellow green meadow beside the river and The Way of Showers and Chardonnay is revealed with a blare of generator.
There are two ways to do the Milford Track. One
is the independent way we have chosen. This is what the ngirungiru would call Freedom Walking. The other way is The Way of Showers and Chardonnay. Here you pay staff to look after you, thereby opening the track to rich people who like to walk lightly, smell nice and eat well. Fair enough. The sandflies will soon sort them out. 12
Felix on the first swing bridge over the Clinton River. (Bring polarising sunglasses to see many trout.)
In fact, we never had much to do with the Shower and
Chardonnays, the huts are positioned far enough away from each other that only the most slow or the very fast could meet.
The first day walk of wonder is only short (ridiculously
if you’re paying for it but there you go.) It’s a little prelude; a magical introduction. The Freedom walkers carry on the enchanted journey for a little while longer – enjoying our first swing-bridge over the swirling waters of the Clinton River. Here’s where a pair of polarising sunglasses would have come in handy. The waters teem with trout and eel. Some of our fellow Freedom Walkers had brought a licence and a rod each and ate fresh fish with lemon and dill for the first two nights.
The Clinton Hut is basic but lovely all the same; home
for a night. We selected bunks and before we knew it, needed torches to find our way to the bathrooms. There’s running water in the sinks and flushing toilets. This Freedom Walking business is not entirely deprived! From Clinton Hut there’s a little side trip over a boardwalk that takes you into another fairy grotto called the Wetland Walkway. Our ranger had posted a sign inviting us to join him on 14
a guided tour at 5pm that evening. Delightful mosses and tiny orchids are nestled in amongst orange and white flowers and oddly strange shapes of bog type plants. Jim Henson’s creatures could be peering at you but it’s the toutoumai (robins) who come to chat. They peck your boots and stare into you to see if they recognise you. Then they test your boots for insects. If you act like a tree a bird could nest in you. You hold your breath. It could happen. Honestly.
DOC provides cooking facilities in the peak season so you
don’t have to carry stove or fuel. You do have to carry pots and all your food and you do have to carry out all your rubbish. Mind you, if you’re cooking a nice big trout then the bones and guts get spilled right back into the river. What comes from the track stays on the track.
The only time we were fully conscious we were sharing
our facilities with a large group of strangers was on that first night as we waited for the ranger’s talk.
Each hut used to be minded by a warden in peak season.
Now, due to the nature of the word ‘warden’, DOC has decided to rename them ‘rangers’. ‘Warden’ had a kind of prison tarnish that doesn’t really fit with Freedom Walking, does it, whereas the 15
word ‘ranger’ is filled with wild adventure and Lord of the Rings ambience and gusto and gung ho guts. Like us. Really. These ranger people wear green and brown and have the appearance of trees. They are rare weather beaten folk (can you get beaten by rain?) who speak the language of trees and birds (except kea – more later) and maintain track and tourist senses of humour with their New Zealand dry wit. You can almost miss some of the more subtle comments as they evaporate like spit on a hot iron amidst the bare facts.
Rain did grace us with an increasingly heavy presence
that evening so Philip and I walked the Wetland Walkway without the benefit of the ranger’s commentary. Once we’d got dry, we thought we’d rather stay dry, suspecting more walking in the rain further down the track.
We were very interested in meeting the ranger and
catching up with the weather forecast for the next day as were the bulk of the forty odd people in the hut. The timed solar powered lighting had flickered on and most had finished their dinners and were chatting or enjoying a game of Euchre or Pass the Pigs when a large family group of British and Dutch extraction began to cook steak for dinner. 16
Now, imagine a relatively large crowded room with closed
windows. It’s raining heavily outside and it’s dark. Damp and dim and close. These Europeans liked their steak really, really, really well done. Okay. Burnt. And we all, slightly disbelieving, sat in a sauna of meat smoke. Windows were flung open. More clothes went on. And the large group of smokers of meat didn’t ever say a word about their abysmal cooking. And no one said much about the smoke really, except thank goodness we weren’t vegetarian. It did add a kind of nightclub effect to the ranger’s talk that night but that group had to work hard to make friends for the rest of the walk.
The rangers are ready for anything. They have to look
after the weather, medical evacuations, floods, avalanches, snow, trapping stoats and rats, cleaning the stoves, fixing the toilets, finding lost people, finding lost things, knowing all the rocks, plants and animals and warning the people about keas.
Keas are a New Zealand parrot. Saying the kea is a
parrot is like saying a Lamborgini is a car. Apparently keas like to eat and they are gourmets; meaning they like to try new foods. These foods may not be recognised by us as food. Keas also like to annoy people. Maybe they’re trying to tell us something? 17
Anyway, one of their favourite things is to eat people’s boots. It’s difficult to finish the Milford Track with only one boot, as one of the Australians will attest (not that she can blame a kea – more later). We heard a lot about keas before we actually met one.
Luckily the sleeping quarters are away from the cooking
part of the hut and people crept away from the stench to clean teeth and snuggle into bags and snore. Earplugs are good.
Kea at Mintaro Hut photo by Felix Millar
Act Two After our peaceful introduction from the day before, the second act begins in earnest. Repacking takes ages. We feel late and grumpy. The Swedish long distance runners left hours ago. Heavy rain is predicted. Will we get washed away? The ranger thought it would be safe for river crossings. We knew from our DOC pamphlet that once we get to the Bus Stop the threat of flooding is over for the day. Bus Stop? On the Milford Track? Who knows why some names stick? Just moments away from Clinton Hut there has been a tree fall. Ancient trees lie across the path. There was no particular wind or reason for the fall. The ranger is fairly certain there wasn’t anyone underneath it. We check for boots – no Wicked Witch of the West Coast. We clamber across the fallen trunk and expect adventure. We find some fantails, skittering and flittering by the track, dancing through the air. It’s their turn on duty. You have to think the birds must know where the track is – it’s been there – peopled every day - for hundreds of years. Perhaps there’s an agreement amongst the flock as to who should be on camera duty that day. These fantails flirted with us until chased away by an affronted weka.
Wekas are like a very serious slim chicken. They have a stern brow line extending down into their beak that gives them a kind of school librarian outlook. They have a stylish brownfeathered cover with a kind of flouncy bustle. Our first weka had a sort of Mistress Housekeeper figure, flipping up the back of her skirts and rushing down the channels beside the track, flapping her wings and darting to and fro over the pathway as though her life depended on clearing the place of those irrepressible fantails. Clearly it was not their turn to shine. It was hers and she made the best of drawing attention to herself. The path, although still relatively flat, becomes thinner and perhaps a little rockier. The hills on either side of the valley grow strong and surround us with impossible photography. Itâ€™s hard to get the grandeur into your head, much less the camera. The river still runs beside us though its nature seems even more changeable. There are more twists and turns and more crossings of rivers. We found some â€˜Australianâ€™ (dry) rivers that showed evidence of recent flooding. There was a sense of impending danger; things became just a bit more dramatic and tensions built as they should in all great stories - will it rain? Will it flood? Will we fall over? 20
The sign for Hidden Lake is not hidden.
A sign tells you where to look for the Hidden Lake. Dead give away really but a great spot for lunch. Was that a rare endangered duck, whio, swimming out there by the cliff? Something made me pick up a stick at Hidden Lake. Iâ€™d like to thank the walker who left it for me. It was perfect. Elbow height, strong with a slight kink creating a kind of handle; a glowing patina of sweat and sandfly repellent built up over the wood as we journeyed back to the main track. 21
More water in the Clinton
Now, gradually, the pathway starts to ascend. We are climbing to around 500 metres above sea level this day and the ground seems to bubble with rocks of increasing size. It’s not as easy. We’re turning serious. It’s work climbing these mountain steps. We’re glad we’ve been training. Still in fairy-land, the Brian Froud trees are with us, and the views ahead tempt us with dramatic glimpses of rocky snow and ice above. After what seems an inordinate time of effort we land at Mintaro Hut and the air is stung with the shouts of freezing swimmers enjoying the swimming hole. Thank goodness there’s a washroom for those of us too scared of the cold. Mintaro is all one building so everyone is thrilled no-one burns their dinner. There’s the smallest helipad in the world there and that’s where we meet our first keas in the morning. 22
Act Three If Alfred Hitchcock had known about keas he could really have made something of that old bird flick. The sound of approaching keas is something I’m sure Peter Jackson’s sound crew have built into the scary bits of Lord of the Rings. It’s a crescendo of squeaking door doom, a car alarm arrival of vampire fang, a bleating of wild claw; it is some wake up call, that’s for sure. But underneath the grim vibe, those keas are hilariously funny. The parrot themselves are olive green and hooked of beak. Some of the walkers are out to protect belongings left out during the night. The humans kick the birds away. Unperturbed, the birds perform for us on the tiny helipad, picking at each other with ruffled feather, monstrous beak and scaly foot. After fueling up with porridge, we proceed in our protected boots, our friends from two nights of card games and chats absorb our son and we enter the rising panic of day three. This is the big day, leading to the climax of our story. This is the day we go over the top; McKinnon Pass. Will we get a view? Will we freeze? Will we make it all the way up to 1069 metres? Will our knees and ankles cope? Will we see an avalanche (preferably from far away?) 23
Glacial snow caps veiled n mist
It is fantastic. The climb takes us above the tree line and into alpine vegetation. It is indeed another world. It is misty and wonderfully mysterious. An impatience to get to the top grows in direct relationship to the pain in our lungs and legs. Of course we do make it safely and our thrill of achievement is almost blown away by the sharp Antartic wind. Quickly our hand-made knitware from our Australian friend Sally is pulled from raincoat pocket and immediately we’re warm again. We prance around the memorial. ‘This isn’t cold,’ said the professional guide who guards thermoses for the Shower and Chardonnay team, ‘Last week there was a foot of snow, 5 degrees below with hundred kilometre winds.’ (A friend of ours managed to beg a little bit of hot chocolate.) A couple of weeks before that people had to be airlifted off the track for safety reasons. If you can’t proceed through the weather, your journey is finished. Though if you pay, you can get put on past the danger. 24
Luck has a great deal to do with your Milford experience. I can imagine it could be very cold and very wet for your entire time. You would have to know that youâ€™ve got dry warm things to get into at the end of the day.
The Clinton Valley from the Day Shelter
However, we are fine, and after trying to squish more scenery into our tiny digital cameras we march up to the Day Shelter for a cup of ginger chai. There we all use the toilet with the best view in Fiordland and it is. Our day on the top, which after careful planning just so happened to be my fiftieth birthday, is veiled in mist. The 25
clouds shift dreamily to show us where we’ve been, a curved glacial valley deep in the distance. Then the curtain is drawn closed again. We face another direction to guess what could be hidden under the cushiony cover and suddenly a blooming great mountain stands before us. When we’ve drunk in view and chai and bracing air we commence the downward journey. Here are thrills and sore ankles aplenty. Once a loud cracking noise made us look up. We could see glacial packed snow had slipped from the top of one of the mountains. Would be terrifying in bad weather. Step by rocky step I’m so glad I’ve found my craggy stick. It saves me from falling more than many times. The way is slippery, steep and winds down from the alpine land into a more open forest – yet another land. The pihipihi (wax-eyes) chirrup and fly in formation to greet us, a cluster of cheerful flickering through the herbiage. The views can no more fit in to the camera than can the sky. Luckily there is need to stop and admire often for our legs begin to grind. We drop down a kilometre over the day.
Once or twice already we’ve found discarded plastic
wrappers of some kind of barley sugar. This starts to build until 28
Icing waterfalls photo by Felix Millar
we feel we’re in a new kind of Hansel and Gretel story – sadly, those who left the wrapper trail will be lost forever or definitely will be when those other walkers, who also were picking up their plastic markers, find them. Some of the Freedom Walkers suggested it might be those from Shower and Chardonnay. No? Could it be? Why, those lowdown, lazy, rich, litterbugs… The waterfalls are full and glorious but not threatening to us except in slipping which some (Shower and Chardonnay) do. (Karmic pay-off?) Eating cheese, salami and cucumber biscuits beside a waterfall is elation. We could have done with more scroggin
Dumpling Hut Swimming hole
though our seaweed snacks lasted the distance well. We older folk decided Sutherland Falls would look very well enough from a distance and continued on the main track but my son and his companions marched the extra hour and a half to see the tons of water torrent down 580 metres from the lake above. A guide from Shower and Chardonnay generously showed them the safe way to get behind the wall of water and get extremely wet. They describe Sutherland Falls as the highlight of their trip and we older folk hide our mild jealousy well. 30
Wow. Would you look at that view?
Sutherland Falls close-up. photo by Felix Millar
31 Sutherland Falls from a distance; no, itâ€™s not Bill Bailey.
We parents waited at Dumpling Hut, swilling champagne from a piccolo bottle because the son carried the cups, and listening to the strange strangulated cries of swimmers shrieking with agony from the thrill of a chilly dip in the swimming hole. Mountains rose around us. Waterfalls glistened like runny icing rivulets down the side of a cake cliff. People were so tired it was hilarious. The huts were more separated â€“ and there was even a small bouquet of forest leaves in the bathroom. Those rangers think of everything, they really do. The sky was clear and there were stars. So many, so bright; and the astrophysicist held court, navigating the Southern Sky for the northerners. We had pancakes for dinner. With lemon and sugar and melted chocolate. Whatâ€™s hardship about that, then?
The Arthur River
Act Four The last act of the Milford Track opens with the realisation that in order to catch the 2pm boat to Milford Sound we will have to leave at dawn. Oh, not really dawn, a bit later, but not much. The days of lingering communing with nature are over. Will we make it in time? There is a vague sense of panic as we find we are almost the last to leave the hut. I am champing at the bit because I’m a slow walker and need to crack on. I leave hubby finishing his pack and get on the track eating our son’s dust. This is the first time I’m by myself in the story. And of course, I’m not. The birds are dancing through the forest too. Today, I’m witness to a bellbird singing. I am captivated. It flies closer through the trees, warbling and, as though digging worms in my soul, is reaching for passion and dreams and colours and it has fantastic range of sound through almost screeching and pure tones of light and a jangle that flits closer until he is right above me and singing directly to me and that bird knew that I was there for sure it did and it performed just for me, absolutely God’s own. I kept moving along the path until I met another weka. This weka was bold. She took her duty seriously. Entertain the human. 33
They like that. She marched up to me, and I was thinking poor bird, mustn’t startle her, gentle wild creature, this weka, and she reached out and pecked my boots in that now familiar Milford Track bird like way, and then, she reached up and grabbed my trousers in her beak. What’s this stuff then? She pinched it, felt the quality, tugged, tugged again, went in for a big tug and I was laughing at her perhaps just slightly worried she might be part kea and then people turned up and she went and hid behind a fern. I thought, well, I’ve had my roving entertainer performance – I’ll leave her to entertain the next crowd. Although we had a fairly good idea of what time we should leave various landmarks, none of our party had thought to bring a watch. The tensions began to mount. The path is still fairly rocky and the Shower and Chardonnay crew are walking a half marathon the last day. We only had to walk 18 km. It’s flat, mostly, but tricky on the foot placement. MacKay Falls white thunder down huge rocks and beside the waterfall is Bell Rock. Someone once saw (who and why? Did they look under all the rocks?) that you could climb under the rock and found that it is hollow inside. It must have been hollowed out in a bowl shape over hundreds of years by the 34
Philip in Bell Rock; take a torch.
force of water and then some act of nature tipped it upside down. Apparently one Shower and Chardonnay guide managed to squash twenty-two of his smaller visitors into the bell at one time. Iâ€™d watch out for that guide if I was doing the Shower and Chardonnay way. And avoid him. Beside walls of rock cuttings that prisoners smashed through a hundred years ago, Lake Ada is the place to get those post card opportunities. Really, itâ€™s annoying to have to catch a boat when you could be dawdling along communing with pictures 35
everyone’s seen on the walls of the travel agent for all their lives but the ranger’s suggested a cruise on the Sound is the correct way to finish the Track and that’s what we’re aiming for. Even if it does become a bit of a panic towards the end. There’s a place to wait for the boat and you think, that’s it, we’re done. If you’re Shower and Chardonnay there’s tea and scones. We had arrived in plenty of time – twenty minutes before the boat leaves. I took my walking stick back along the path and said goodbye to it. When I put it down I noticed all the other walking sticks that lay beside the track. Mine was best. 36
We started to walk down to the boat and there was an unexpected twist in the tale. It wasn’t all over yet. There’s quite a tricky little twisty path to get on to the boat and on boarding, my husband knocked his drink bottle out of the side pocket of his pack and into the Sound. The captain immediately performed an intricate rescue operation and fished the bottle up on deck with his trusty boat hook. The tired walkers shared the last of my son’s snacks. (Pork scratchings. Yuck.) The rattly old boat pulled away from Sandfly Point and headed up into Piopiotahi (Milford Sound). We had done the Milford Track. We had been Freedom Walkers and we had forgotten all about our previous life. We’d done breathing and walking and my feet had gone flat. It was a lovely story. It took a year of planning and it marked my fiftieth birthday, my son’s fourteenth birthday and our wedding anniversary. I asked fourteen year old Felix what he’d enjoyed most, the views or meeting people from all around the world? He said, ‘Meeting the people.’ We all lived happily ever after. photo by Felix Millar
Victoria, Philip, Felix, Ally, Cedric, Mary, Mike and Inigo fresh off the Milford Track (photo by a passing Swedish long distance running web designer.)
38 Be careful when cruising Milford Sound, the wind will change.
Footnote: The story of the boot. Have you ever asked yourself, is it possible to walk the Milford Track with just one boot?
When we first met Ally and Mike at Te Anau Downs, she
had just realised there was something wrong with her boot. The heel was loose. Before the walk even started Mike fixed it up with tape. It was their wedding anniversary. Over the next couple of nights he fixed it with slightly different strategies and tape. On the last day, the boot became part of the drama. Would it last until the end of the track? Would Ally be able to make it to the boat on time? Would she be able to walk at all? Mike even had to carry her some of the last few metres but Ally made sure it wasnâ€™t until they sat down on the boat that the boot gave its last gasp. Mind you, her toenail went black and fell off after a few days. Exactly like Cinderella. Told you the Milford Track was a fairy story.
Cinderellaâ€™s boot photo by Felix Millar
Milford Sound. Do the cruise.
v i c k o z 8 4 @ y a h o o . c om.au
See tourists get wet.
Published on Jul 2, 2009
A light hearted account of one of the Great Walks of the South Island of New Zealand. In April '09 three of us set out to explore what it me...