My Milford Track Experience

Walking the Milford Track has been on my bucket list for many years and I saw this summer as likely being my last chance to do it. I was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer in 2013 and since then have been through a number of hormonal treatments. Armidex was the most successful of these, but after a year no longer worked for me. Next was chemotherapy in the form of capecitabine tablets, which I have been on for 6 months. I discussed having a break off capecitabine with my oncologist, to walk the Milford Track, and she was completely happy with this.

On the 9th December I joined a group of 28 mainly American trampers on an ‘Ultimate Hikes’ guided tramp. We left Queenstown by bus for Lake Te Anau, then boarded a launch to take us to the head of the lake where the Milford Track starts. Just a short walk took us to Glade House on the edge of the beautiful Clinton river.

Day 2: with the weather fine but cloudy we walked through Beach forest, up the Clinton River 16kms to Pompolona Lodge.

Day 3: a beautiful sunny day for our most challenging tramp. Leaving the Clinton Valley, climbing MacKinnon Pass then descending to Quintin Lodge at the bottom of the pass. I had some doubt as to how my body would hold together on this leg. I need not have worried, I was on a high from coming off chemo, adrenalin took over and I was like a real kid again (well a 63yr old one anyway). Including a walk to the spectacular Sutherland Falls, we did 20km that day.

Day 4: a wet day for our last day of tramping and we were surrounded by waterfalls cascading down the mountain sides. After 21km of mainly flat track through rain forest, we reached the hut at Sandfly point. Here we boarded the boat to take us to Milford Sound. By now we looked like drowned rats, were chafed and blistered, but massively happy. A deep hot bath in our ensuite rooms at Mitre Peak Lodge restored us to be able to enjoy our last dinner and evening together.

Day 5: a boat trip on Milford Sound before boarding the bus back to Queenstown.

The whole trip was great: the scenery was breathtaking, the lodges were super comfortable, the meals were man-sized but restaurant quality, the whole group including the guides was like one big happy family. I’m really glad I did this – I had a ball.