Sutherland Falls and the Milford Track Waterfalls

Fiordland National Park / Milford Track, South Island, New Zealand

About Sutherland Falls and the Milford Track Waterfalls


Hiking Distance: 53km one-way shuttle
Suggested Time: 4 days

Date first visited: 2004-11-29
Date last visited: 2004-11-29

Waterfall Latitude: -44.80151
Waterfall Longitude: 167.72887

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Sutherland Falls had to have been by far the mightiest waterfall in New Zealand.

Ever since Julie and I knew of its existence, we made it a point to journey to this waterfall no matter how logistically difficult we found out it would be when we were planning for our honeymoon in November 2004.

Milford_Track_day3_107_11282004 - Sutherland Falls
Sutherland Falls

All the visual splendour that whetted our appetite to see this majestic wonder in person had the statistics to back it up.

After all, it had a cumulative drop of 580m in three distinct vertical leaps from Lake Quill.

That made it one of the tallest permanent waterfalls in the world (though Browne Falls in Doubtful Sound could very well have the title of the tallest such waterfall in the country).

We even placed it amongst our Top 10 List of the World’s Best Waterfalls.

Sutherland Falls and the Milford Track Logistics

Milford_Track_day1_004_11262004 - Our hiking group showing up to the Glade House, which was the first night's accommodation of the four-day Milford Track
Our hiking group showing up to the Glade House, which was the first night’s accommodation of the four-day Milford Track

As for logistical challenges, we essentially devoted nearly an entire week of our first trip to New Zealand to make a Sutherland Falls visit possible.

That was because we had to tramp the four-day 54km Milford Track to even access the falls.

I also forked over the money to do the more expensive guided tramp experience (about 5x the cost of an equivalent independent tramp in November 2004).

That way, the long-distance hike would be less of an ordeal, especially since we were on a honeymoon.

Milford_Track_day3_041_11282004 - Experiencing some bad weather on our brutally long climb up to Mackinnon Pass
Experiencing some bad weather on our brutally long climb up to Mackinnon Pass

It was probably a good call because our scheduled time on the track happened to be nearly 70% inundated with a rain storm, including our traverse of Mackinnon Pass at the highest point of the tramp.

We knew that booking this tramp had to be done months in advance, and I recalled making calls as early as almost a year before our planned trip.

That meant that once we were committed, there was no turning back and we really had no choice but to cross our fingers and hope the weather would cooperate on our scheduled tramping dates.

In any case, we knew full well that Fiordland gets nearly 7m of rain per year so it wasn’t surprising that Mother Nature’s random whims wasn’t so kind to us on our visit in late November 2004.

Milford_Track_day3_074_11282004 - The Anderson Cascades were one of the named waterfalls or cascades seen along the Milford Track
The Anderson Cascades were one of the named waterfalls or cascades seen along the Milford Track

In any case, we were also treated to numerous other waterfalls, which I’ll also describe on this page.

Such named waterfalls included Hirere Falls, St Quintin Falls, Anderson Cascades, Dudleigh Falls, Lindsay Falls, McKay Falls, and Giant Gate Falls.

They really served as landmarks to help mentally break up the long distance Great Walk as you can imagine a long distance one-way multi-day backpack would entail.

Indeed, they called this the finest tramp in the world (a claim I’m sure would be debatable depending on who you talk to).

Milford_Sound_007_11302004 - The end of our guided tour was a morning wake-up at the beautiful Milford Sound
The end of our guided tour was a morning wake-up at the beautiful Milford Sound

I’d imagine this claim was due to the waterfalls, the alpine and valley views throughout, and its grand finale at the famed Milford Sound (after starting at the north end of Lake Te Anau).

I’ll describe our Sutherland Falls experience on this page by walking you through our Milford Track experience.

I’m well aware that independent trampers will have a different experience as their routes were staggered and in different accommodation than what we were allowed to do…

Milford Track Day 1: Glade House

On our first day, we had a lot of time to kill.

Lake_Te_Anau_002_11262004 - The first part of our Milford Track journey involved taking a boat across Lake Te Anau
The first part of our Milford Track journey involved taking a boat across Lake Te Anau

We showed up at the Ultimate Hikes office late in the morning and did their obligatory orientation, which was basically a safety video with some equipment procurement that consisted of thermal underwear (to keep), goretex jackets, and backpacks.

In hindsight, we probably should have brought our own rain ponchos, which ended up having a better chance at keeping ourselves and our gear dry through all the rain we would eventually see.

We didn’t start taking off for the boat ride across Lake Te Anau until after lunch when the crew that came over from Queenstown finally showed up.

I thought it was a shame that on such a beautiful day like today, we had to spend most of it waiting.

Lake_Te_Anau_021_11262004 - Approaching the end of Lake Te Anau where the Milford Track tramping began on Day 1
Approaching the end of Lake Te Anau where the Milford Track tramping began on Day 1

Knowing how variable the weather was in this area, I knew we were losing an opportunity to capitalize on the fine weather and maybe even try for Mackinnon Pass had it been Day 2 instead of Day 1.

In any case, our tour began with a pleasant cruise towards the northern tip of Lake Te Anau.

There wasn’t much in the way of waterfalls during this part of the journey, but we did spot one memorial of Quinton Mackinnon (who “pioneered” the Milford Track route in 1888) as well as some native flora that the guide pointed out.

When the boat landed, we joined a large group of trampers all headed in the same direction.

Milford_Track_day1_016_11262004 - Chilling out by a creek upstream from the Glade House
Chilling out by a creek upstream from the Glade House

However, we ultimately stopped at about 1.6km from Lake Te Anau where we dropped off our stuff at the Glade House.

The independent walkers kept going until about 5km from Lake Te Anau where they got to spend the night at the Clinton Hut.

We went on a short nature walk where we got to chill out and get distant views back towards Lake Te Anau as well as the Sentinel Peak looking in the other direction towards Clinton Valley.

Given the beautiful weather, it was a very calm and relaxing experience though there really wasn’t much in the way of waterfalls on this day.

Milford_Track_day1_010_11262004 - The long swinging bridge over the Clinton River right in front of the Glade House
The long swinging bridge over the Clinton River right in front of the Glade House

We even got to see some alpenglow on the peaks behind the Glade House as the sun was setting, which was really cool.

Milford Track Day 2: Pompolona Lodge

After spending the night at the Glade House (getting aquainted with both keas and sandflies), we had breakfast then headed out.

The day’s hike began with an immediate crossing of the Clinton River over a long swinging bridge.

Beyond the bridge, we were back on a conventional bush track that followed along the river.

Milford_Track_day2_016_11272004 - This was the Wetlands Walk near the Clinton Hut, which independent trampers got to see on Day 1 while we got to see this on Day 2
This was the Wetlands Walk near the Clinton Hut, which independent trampers got to see on Day 1 while we got to see this on Day 2

Along the way, there was a signposted lookout at a bend in the river towards Dore Pass (some other mountain traverse that only staff or hardy independent trekkers would have the time and preparation to do).

We also took the optional side track to the Wetlands Walk, which was a boardwalk that took us out to a very open part of the Clinton Valley yielding more scenic vistas as well as a closer examination of the ecosystem here.

Nearby the Wetlands Walk was the Clinton Hut, which was where independent trampers got to spend the night. After Clinton Hut, we went on a very long walk within the Clinton Valley.

It wasn’t until we reached the so-called Dead Lake which marked a little bit of a change in scenery for us.

Milford_Track_day2_039_11272004 - Walking through Clinton Valley on Day 2 of the Milford Track
Walking through Clinton Valley on Day 2 of the Milford Track

This “lake” was really a pool of standing water that inundated some trees thereby giving it a bit of a swampy appearance.

This was also where we started to see Hirere Falls, which was the first of the named waterfalls we encountered on this trek.

It took Julie and I a little over 5 hours before we finally stopped to have lunch at the Hirere Falls shelter.

Even though we welcomed the break from the long walking, we still had to contend with swarming sandflies as well as the keas aggressively trying to steal food from us and anyone else wanting to take the picnic break.

Milford_Track_day2_051_11272004 - Looking over Dead Lake towards Hirere Falls right in the middle of this photo
Looking over Dead Lake towards Hirere Falls right in the middle of this photo

Nearby the shelter, we were able to get perhaps our most unobstructed views of Hirere Falls, which was a stringy waterfall in the distance that might be permanent and thus given the name.

As we continued beyond the lunch shelter, we started to see Mackinnon Pass in the distance towards the head of Clinton Valley.

We also took the time to explore a handful of side tracks leading us towards some secluded ephemeral waterfalls as well as one that fell into rubble before re-emerging from a cave.

In hindsight, I wondered if this was what was left of the so-called Pompolona Icefield though admittedly, there really wasn’t much of a glacier or icefield left when we showed up in late November 2004.

Milford_Track_day2_112_11272004 - Looking ahead towards Mackinnon Pass while we walked to the head of the Clinton Valley en route to the Pompolona Lodge to end day 2 of our Milford Track tramp
Looking ahead towards Mackinnon Pass while we walked to the head of the Clinton Valley en route to the Pompolona Lodge to end day 2 of our Milford Track tramp

Finally after about 2 hours from the Hirere Falls Lunch Shelter (nearly 7 hours from the Glade House), we reached a dilapidated shelter called the Bus Stop.

I don’t recall why it was so named, but with the sandflies buzzing around, we didn’t linger here for long.

Eventually at around another 30 minutes beyond the Bus Stop, we finally arrived at the Pompolona Lodge.

We showed up just in time before we started to experience some heavy downpours.

Milford_Track_day2_125_11282004 - Veins of waterfalls coming down behind the Pompolona Lodge as the rain really started to come
Veins of waterfalls coming down behind the Pompolona Lodge as the rain really started to come

It was amazing how quickly the weather turned on us like that as we were getting some pretty fair weather up to this point.

Little did we realize that this rain would stick with us for the remainder of our time on the Milford Track.

Overall, we had spent about 7.5 hours on the track including all the side trips and detours. The literature said that the typical tramping time would be between 5-7 hours or 16km.

With all this physical exertion, Julie and I looked forward to a hot shower and dinner.

Milford Track Day 3: Quintin Lodge and Sutherland Falls

Milford_Track_day3_007_11282004 - Framed view of St Quintin Falls early on day 3 of our Milford Track adventure
Framed view of St Quintin Falls early on day 3 of our Milford Track adventure

After having brekkie at the Pompolona Lodge, we set out on what was quite literally the most dramatic day of the Milford Track.

And by dramatic, I didn’t just mean the scenery, but the foul weather really made things interesting as well.

When Julie and I had set out, the weather was momentarily calm and were immediately greeted by several waterfalls that didn’t seem to have names.

The lone exception was one that had a signpost calling it St Quintin Falls (said to be 115m). We encountered this waterfall barely 15-30 minutes from the start of our walk.

Afterwards, we would continue on the gradually steeper climb as the track was making its way towards a saddle.

Milford_Track_day3_021_11282004 - Approaching a bridge backed by numerous waterfalls at the start of Day 3
Approaching a bridge backed by numerous waterfalls at the start of Day 3

At this saddle, we noticed the Mintaro Hut, which was where independent trampers spent their second night.

Nearby this accommodation, there was also a little helicopter landing pad (for rescues and supplies, I’d imagine) as well as a little lake.

For more flexible independent trampers who were also strong and fast hikers, it was also possible to climb up to Mackinnon Pass if the weather was good before retreating back down to the Mintaro Hut (as it was fairly close enough to the pass to allow this to be a possibility).

Clearly, it wasn’t an option for us since we were still a good 4-5km further away at the Pompolona Lodge at the end of the second day.

Milford_Track_day3_038_11282004 - Looking towards the Nicholas Cirque as we were making the climb up to Mackinnon Pass
Looking towards the Nicholas Cirque as we were making the climb up to Mackinnon Pass

Anyways, immediately after leaving the Mintaro Hut vicinity, that was when promptly made our way up long zig-zagging climb up to Mackinnon Pass at over 1100m.

Along this tiring stretch of track, we got to look back towards the Clinton Valley as well as towards the head of Clinton Valley at the so-called Nicholas Cirque.

The weather had started off relatively calm when we began this stretch of the hike, but it quickly turned rainy and cold by the time we made it up to the Mackinnon memorial at the pass.

Amazingly, keas and sandflies were still around to bother us even under the inclement conditions.

Milford_Track_day3_057_11282004 - Experiencing the onset of turbulent weather at Mackinnon Pass
Experiencing the onset of turbulent weather at Mackinnon Pass

The pass was supposed to be the highlight of the scenery of the Milford Track, but unfortunately for us, the clouds started to get lower and really dump their load on us.

The well-positioned Pass Hut Shelter (roughly over 4 hours from the time we started our hike) was just what we needed to stave off the chilly temperatures, the odd snow flurries, and the cold rain.

Julie and I remembered vividly the hot drink warming our bodies from the inside and staving off the potential of hypothermia.

In fact, we witnessed one fellow guided tramper struggling with the conditions as he was shivering and needed to change into a dry shirt while getting more doses of hot drinks.

Milford_Track_day3_064_11282004 - Descending into the Arthur Valley side of the Milford Track with many waterfalls and some snow coming down
Descending into the Arthur Valley side of the Milford Track with many waterfalls and some snow coming down

When it came time to leave the Pass Hut Shelter and face the weather, we immediately followed the track towards the Arthur Valley side of Mackinnon Pass where the clouds were still high enough to allow us to see the rocky cliff faces of the surrounding mountains.

I’m sure under better weather the precipitous views and mindblowing alpine scenery was what prompted many to call this the finest walk in the world.

However for us, we tried to make sure we were off the pass before visibility and lightning started to become a problem as we also started to hear the loud roar of thunder.>

As we made the steep descent further into Arthur Valley, the track started to appear more developed as we reached a series of waterfalls known as the Anderson Cascades.

Milford_Track_day3_067_11282004 - One of the uppermost of the Anderson Cascades
One of the uppermost of the Anderson Cascades

The track descended alongside these cascades mostly as wire-mesh-topped staircases though they were very slippery even with the wire mesh atop the wooden surface.

In one calamitous instance, I saw one independent tramper slip and fall then flip head over heels before landing on his back (cushioned by his pack) at the very bottom of the steps.

He was visibly shaken, but nothing was broken and he was eventually back on his way to continue the tramp.

When we got past the Anderson Cascades (part of what was feeding the Arthur River below), we then started to notice more signposted waterfalls along the track.

Milford_Track_day3_090_11282004 - Dudleigh Falls was one of the named waterfalls that we encountered during our descent from Mackinnon Pass towards the Quintin Lodge at the end of day 3 of the Milford Track
Dudleigh Falls was one of the named waterfalls that we encountered during our descent from Mackinnon Pass towards the Quintin Lodge at the end of day 3 of the Milford Track

The first of these signposted falls was Dudleigh Falls, which had sort of a punch bowl type appearance as we looked down at it.

A few minutes after getting past Dudleigh Falls, we saw the top of the signposted Lindsay Falls.

We never really got a clean and satisfying look at it as it was always hidden behind foliage after having seen it from its top.

Perhaps there might have been a scrambling path to go upstream from the bottom to get a better look, but we didn’t bother (regardless of whether such a view existed or not).

Milford_Track_day3_101_11282004 - Looking towards the valley containing Sutherland Falls and some ephemeral waterfalls aided by the rain storm that hit us while we descended from Mackinnon Pass
Looking towards the valley containing Sutherland Falls and some ephemeral waterfalls aided by the rain storm that hit us while we descended from Mackinnon Pass

Eventually after about 6 hours of some pretty challenging hiking, we ultimately arrived at the Quintin Lodge. To this point, we had hiked about 15km.

While Julie opted to call it a day and chill out in the lodge, I knew that the day wasn’t over yet.

I still had to do the 90-minute return track to the base of Sutherland Falls.

And I knew that this was the only opportunity I would have to experience this majestic waterfall from up close.

Milford Track Day 3: Optional Hike to the Base of Sutherland Falls
Milford_Track_day3_102_11282004 - The additional spur track leading to the base of Sutherland Falls at the end of day 3 on the Milford Track
The additional spur track leading to the base of Sutherland Falls at the end of day 3 on the Milford Track

So I followed the signpost that was just beyond the Quintin Lodge, which told of Sutherland Falls’ overall height (580m) as well as its constituent parts (top 248m, middle 229m, and lower 103m).

And I immediately passed by some more ephemeral waterfalls fed from the rain storm that drenched us at Mackinnon Pass.

The hike was pretty straightforward as I went through a combination of lush rainforest with open spaces flanking bare rocky cliffs surrounding the valley.

The track would then reach a signpost that was positioned as far from the base of Sutherland Falls as it was tall.

Milford_Track_day3_114_11282004 - One of the fellow trampers actually going all the way behind the base of Sutherland Falls
One of the fellow trampers actually going all the way behind the base of Sutherland Falls

After another 0.5km of tramping, I got through the bush and found myself face-to-face with Sutherland Falls in an open area.

It was misty around the base of the falls.

Moreover, the forced perspective of looking up at the three-tiered waterfall kind of made it seem smaller from this close up than it did when I was approaching it from further back along the track.

One crazy fellow tramper actually went behind the falls, which one of the guides actually frowned upon saying it was too dangerous.

Milford_Track_day3_122_11282004 - Looking back towards the valley containing Sutherland Falls as seen from its base
Looking back towards the valley containing Sutherland Falls as seen from its base

In any case, when I started to head back towards the Quintin Lodge, the view of the side valley I had tramped through to get here was beautiful and U-shaped.

Such a U-shape attested to the glacial heritage of this steep valley (and possibly the verticality of Sutherland Falls itself).

When all was said and done, I had spent almost 8 hours combined from the start to the time I finally stopped hiking upon my return to the Quintin Lodge.

Milford Track Day 4: Sandfly Point and the Milford Sound

We began the day with sore muscles and that strange feeling of being caught in between wanting the hike to be over with and wanting to stay on the track in the hopes the weather would improve.

Milford_Track_day4_003_11292004 - Looking over the Quintin Lodge shortly before continuing on with Day 4 of the Milford Track
Looking over the Quintin Lodge shortly before continuing on with Day 4 of the Milford Track

Given that we had another long day of tramping ahead of us, we quickly set out to continue the remainder of the downhill hike from Mackinnon Pass that started yesterday.

The remainder of the descent went along a section of track known as the Gentle Annie, which was essentially a boardwalk area going by a bog.

Just before the track reached the boardwalk, we were besides the Arthur River where we looked back towards Sutherland Falls for one last look at it.

The clouds were still hanging low so its topmost section wasn’t totally visible during our visit, but I guess that came with the territory thanks to the variable weather in this wild part of the South Island.

Milford_Track_day4_007_11292004 - Last look back at Sutherland Falls flanked by other waterfalls and newly-dumped snow under some low clouds as seen from the Milford Track at the start of day 4
Last look back at Sutherland Falls flanked by other waterfalls and newly-dumped snow under some low clouds as seen from the Milford Track at the start of day 4

After the Gentle Annie, the track remained mostly flat as we walked along a very long stretch flanked by a combination of thick bush then open terrain with some views of surrounding mountains.

Along the way, we skipped by the Dumpling Hut, which was where indepent trampers would have spent their third night on the Milford Track.

At a little over two hours from the Quintin Lodge, we reached the Boat Shed Shelter, which was where we were served another round of hot drinks before continuing on.

The sandfly swarm was particularly pretty nasty over here so we didn’t linger for long.

Milford_Track_day4_019_11292004 - The boardwalk alongside a particularly boggy part of the Arthur Valley in a section that I believe to be called the Gentle Annie
The boardwalk alongside a particularly boggy part of the Arthur Valley in a section that I believe to be called the Gentle Annie

Immediately after leaving the shelter, we crossed a swinging bridge traversing the Arthur River and entered a thick bush walk.

At the other end of the bush walk, we arrived at the 15m MacKay Falls, which was an unusually-shaped wishbone waterfall.

Adjacent to the falls was the so-called Bell Rock, where we were able to crawl beneath an opening at its bottom then stand up inside the bell itself.

Speaking of MacKay Falls, we were told by our guides that the first European explorers in the area – John MacKay and Donald Sutherland – were hiking up the Arthur Valley from Sandfly Point by the shores of Milford Sound.

Milford_Track_day4_068_11292004 - MacKay Falls
MacKay Falls

When they eventually arrived at this waterfall, they decided over a coin flip who got to name this waterfall.

It turned out that MacKay won the coin toss and decided to name this waterfall after himself.

However, the arrangement was that the next waterfall belonged to Sutherland.

Needless to say, when they continued their way further upstream, they’d eventually reach the massive Sutherland Falls and Sir Donald was richly rewarded for actually losing the coin toss getting to name that waterfall after himself!

After leaving MacKay Falls, we went through more long stretches of open terrain where we got to further observe the much higher rainfall of the Arthur Valley as compared to the Clinton Valley.

Milford_Track_day4_088_11292004 - A scenic bend in the Arthur River that would have been even more impressive had the clouds not been hanging low
A scenic bend in the Arthur River that would have been even more impressive had the clouds not been hanging low

Indeed, all the trees we noticed had thick carpets of moss growing all over them. I even recalled one stretch where we had to traverse a landslip (or tree avalanches).

Apparently, such scars on the landscape seemed to be surprisingly common here considering the valley walls were so steep and the rainfall erosion so high that every once in a while, landslides occur.

There were some parts of the track that hugged a rocky cliff sandwiched between it and the Arthur River.

That section of track was said to be built by prison labour between 1890 and 1892.

Milford_Track_day4_099_11292004 - Giant Gate Falls in Arthur Valley
Giant Gate Falls in Arthur Valley

Roughly about two hours after leaving MacKay Falls (or nearly 5 hours after leaving Quintin Lodge), we ended up at the Giant Gate Falls Lunch Shelter for a quick (and I do mean quick thanks to sandflies and keas) lunch break.

For that signature photo of the swinging bridge crossing before the impressive 20m Giant Gate Falls, we would have had to jump into the creek and wade towards its middle.

We were in no mood to do this wading (which undoubtedly would have ruined the interior of our hiking boots and wool socks) so we had to be content taking photos of this waterfall from the swinging bridge itself.

Beyond Giant Gate Falls, we made one last detour towards the shores of Lake Ada (a little over an hour later).

Milford_Track_day4_110_11292004 - Looking towards Lake Ada near the end of day 4 of our Milford Track tramp
Looking towards Lake Ada near the end of day 4 of our Milford Track tramp

Another hour of more flat hiking through rainforest eventually led us to the Sandfly Point Shelter.

This was where we patiently waited inside for the last of the trampers to get here so we could boat across to the wharf at the Milford Sound and ultimately settle in for the final night at the Mitre Peak Lodge.

After the boat ride, Independent Trampers would have to catch a coach back to Te Anau Downs to recover their transport and their belongings.

For Julie and I, Sandfly Point was just under 8 hours (21km) of hiking from the time we left the Quintin Lodge.

Milford_Track_day4_118_11292004 - Context of the mossy trees flanking the Milford Track near the Sandfly Point Shelter at the end of the Milford Track
Context of the mossy trees flanking the Milford Track near the Sandfly Point Shelter at the end of the Milford Track

The shelter was aptly named for there were numerous sandflies trying to take pot shots of trampers passing through and into the hut.

However, once we were inside the humid shelter, we were surprised at how effective it was as sandflies were concentrated at the entrance and around the windows.

Yet they generally didn’t really linger around the inside of the shelter itself.

And so ended our hiking portion of the Milford Track, where we noticed many people left behind their hiking boots hanging around the Sandfly Point sign near the boat dock.

Milford_Track_day4_124_11292004 - Noticing more waterfalls as we were on the boat between Sandfly Point and the Milford Sound
Noticing more waterfalls as we were on the boat between Sandfly Point and the Milford Sound

Taking a finish-line photo was an exercise in discipline for it was very difficult to remain smiling and still without swatting at the sandflies.

In any case, we achieved our goal of witnessing Sutherland Falls in person. However, there was so much more to see and do.

Certainly, it was one of those memorable hikes of a lifetime that Julie and I were glad to do. And it was all because of one waterfall!

Authorities

Sutherland Falls resides in Fiordland National Park near Te Anau in the Fiordland region of South Island, New Zealand. It is administered under the jurisdiction of the Department of Conservation. For information or inquiries about the area as well as current conditions, visit their website.

Lake_Te_Anau_003_11262004 - Looking across Lake Te Anau towards another boat chilling out in the deep lake backed by snow-capped mountains as we were making our way to the start of the Milford Track
Lake_Te_Anau_009_11262004 - Looking towards the Quintin Mackinnon Memorial on the shores of Lake Te Anau
Lake_Te_Anau_015_11262004 - Looking towards some waterfall high up on the mountains flanking Lake Te Anau
Lake_Te_Anau_019_11262004 - Looking up at some temporary waterfalls draining the melting snow off the mountains flanking Lake Te Anau
Lake_Te_Anau_023_11262004 - Looking towards a pair of thin waterfalls shortly before landing at the start of the Milford Track at the head of Lake Te Anau
Milford_Track_day1_002_11262004 - On the start of the Milford Track after being dropped off the boat
Milford_Track_day1_005_11262004 - Looking back towards a pair of thin waterfalls from the Glade House, which was our accommodation for the first night on the Milford Track
Milford_Track_day1_012_11262004 - Contextual look back towards some ephemeral waterfalls beneath the snow as seen from the Glade House at the end of day 1 on the Milford Track
Milford_Track_day1_013_11262004 - Looking towards the Clinton River from the Glade House in beautiful weather though that weather wouldn't last for long
Milford_Track_day1_018_11262004 - Looking in the distance towards Sentinel Peak as seen from the Glade House at the end of day 1 on the Milford Track
Milford_Track_day1_020_11272004 - Looking back over the Glade House with some orange alpenglow on the peaks in the background
Milford_Track_day2_001_11272004 - Looking towards Sentinel Peak under some cloud cover at the start of Day 2 of the Milford Track
Milford_Track_day2_003_11272004 - Looking towards the swinging bridge over the Clinton River at the start of day 2 on the Milford Track
Milford_Track_day2_004_11272004 - Julie going across the Clinton River on a long swinging bridge on the Milford Track day 2
Milford_Track_day2_006_11272004 - Looking ahead at the narrow swinging bridge over the Clinton River at the start of day 2 on the Milford Track
Milford_Track_day2_007_11272004 - Looking back towards the Glade House from the swinging bridge
Milford_Track_day2_012_11272004 - Looking towards a bend in the Clinton River in the direction of Dore Pass
Milford_Track_day2_014_11272004 - Julie on the side track leading to the Wetlands Walk, which was a short detour to an open area of the Clinton Valley
Milford_Track_day2_017_11272004 - Looking over some foliage growing in the wetlands part of the Wetlands Walk on day 2 on the Milford Track
Milford_Track_day2_023_11272004 - Looking over the Clinton Hut, where the independent trampers had spent the night on day 1 of the Milford Track
Milford_Track_day2_024_11272004 - Continuing on the well-defined track through the Clinton Valley on day 2 of the Milford Track
Milford_Track_day2_029_11272004 - There was always a Milford Track guide in the very front of the group and one in the very back. There were also some sprinkled in between to ensure people were enjoying themselves on the guided walk
Milford_Track_day2_031_11272004 - Looking along the Clinton River, which the Milford Track pretty much followed throughout day 2
Milford_Track_day2_033_11272004 - Most of the hike for Day 2 of the Milford Track looked very much like this where we were surrounded by native bush while always alongside the Clinton River
Milford_Track_day2_034_11272004 - Looking towards some cascade tumbling down an apparent landslip as seen along day 2 of the Milford Track in Clinton Valley
Milford_Track_day2_035_11272004 - One of the ephemeral waterfalls seen when we reached a more open part of the Clinton Valley in day 2 of the Milford Track
Milford_Track_day2_050_11272004 - Looking towards Dead Lake, which appeared to have seen a flood or two, as seen during day 2 of our Milford Track tramp
Milford_Track_day2_052_11272004 - Closer look at the stagnant waters of Dead Lake
Milford_Track_day2_053_11272004 - Closer look at Hirere Falls from the lunch shelter on day 2 of the Milford Track
Milford_Track_day2_056_11272004 - Keas were persistent presences on the Milford Track as they were quite cheeky characters throughout the whole experience. This one was looking to steal food while we were lunching at the Hirere Falls Lunch Shelter
Milford_Track_day2_058_11272004 - Contextual direct look at the Hirere Falls from the lunch shelter
Milford_Track_day2_060_11272004 - Focused look at the named but otherwise obscure Hirere Falls
Milford_Track_day2_062_11272004 - Julie going past a sign for Mackinnon Pass alerting us that it was right up ahead of us (it was the flat plateau-looking thing at the head of Clinton Valley)
Milford_Track_day2_066_11272004 - Looking towards another temporary waterfall over some side creek or tributary of the Clinton River after having left the Hirere Falls Lunch Shelter
Milford_Track_day2_067_11272004 - This pond and temporary waterfall at the base of a landslip was at the end of an optional spur track away from the Milford Track on day 2
Milford_Track_day2_070_11272004 - Looking over a pond or overflow section of the Clinton River towards Mackinnon Pass
Milford_Track_day2_073_11272004 - Clinton Valley closing in at Mackinnnon Pass up ahead as we had regained the main Milford Track on day 2
Milford_Track_day2_080_11272004 - Looking at a series of ephemeral waterfalls at the end of another one of the detours we made between Hirere Falls and the Pompolona Lodge
Milford_Track_day2_083_11272004 - Context of Julie continuing up ahead on the Milford Track with some more ephemeral waterfalls tumbling in front of her
Milford_Track_day2_088_11272004 - Some kind of cave beneath another ephemeral waterfall on another detour from the Milford Track. I believe this basin was once a landslide so the gound was probably unstable
Milford_Track_day2_090_11272004 - More contextual look at the ephemeral waterfalls at the end of yet another detour off the Milford Track
Milford_Track_day2_091_11272004 - Julie making it to the end of the spur detour track ending at this pool fed by a few ephemeral waterfalls off of the Milford Track on day 2
Milford_Track_day2_094_11272004 - Contextual look at a pair of twin ephemeral waterfalls spilling into a calm pond at the end of a spur detour from day 2 of the Milford Track
Milford_Track_day2_097_11272004 - Looking ahead towards Mackinnon Pass as we got closer to the Pompolona Lodge on day 2 of the Milford Track
Milford_Track_day2_102_11272004 - Crossing over a bridge backed by some more stringy ephemeral waterfalls as seen on day 2 of the Milford Track
Milford_Track_day2_104_11272004 - Many waterfalls coming down like veins seen along Day 2 of the Milford Track
Milford_Track_day2_108_11272004 - Another look at waterfalls coming down like veins on day 2 of the Milford Track
Milford_Track_day2_110_11272004 - The well-defined track through Clinton Valley on our way to the Pompolona Lodge with Mackinnon Pass still visible up ahead
Milford_Track_day2_114_11272004 - Looking back at another one of the thin waterfalls as we made our way to Pompolona Lodge during day 2 on the Milford Track
Milford_Track_day2_115_11272004 - The dilapidated Bus Stop Shelter
Milford_Track_day2_119_11282004 - Looking up towards some waterfalls coming down like veins as the skies were dumping rain while we were sheltered at the Pompolona Lodge
Milford_Track_day2_121_11282004 - Looking across the Pompolona Lodge in context with dark clouds dumping rain over the mountains backing the area at the end of day 2 on the Milford Track
Milford_Track_day2_124_11282004 - Looking back up towards more waterfalls coming down like veins at the end of Milford Track day 2 while sheltered at the Pompolona Lodge
Milford_Track_day3_002_11282004 - A series of waterfalls seen at the start of Day 3 of the Milford Track
Milford_Track_day3_004_11282004 - Context of a bridge backed by some waterfalls as seen at the start of day 3 of the Milford Track
Milford_Track_day3_009_11282004 - Zoomed in examination of St Quintin Falls seen at the start of day 3 of the Milford Track
Milford_Track_day3_010_11282004 - Looking ahead towards the head of Clinton Valley as we were approaching the climb up to Mackinnon pass on day 3 of the Milford Track
Milford_Track_day3_013_11282004 - Still following day 3 of the Milford Track flanked by lots of nameless waterfalls
Milford_Track_day3_015_11282004 - More waterfalls seen along Day 3 of the Milford Track
Milford_Track_day3_017_11282004 - Julie passing before one of the thicker unnamed waterfalls on Day 3 of the Milford Track
Milford_Track_day3_020_11282004 - More waterfalls seen as we were getting closer to Mackinnon Pass and the climb to get up there on day 3 of the Milford Track
Milford_Track_day3_022_11282004 - Passing before several dozen ephemeral waterfalls seen on Day 3 of the Milford Track
Milford_Track_day3_023_11282004 - Looking up at one of the thicker unnamed waterfalls near the head of the Clinton Valley as seen on day 3 of the Milford Track
Milford_Track_day3_025_11282004 - Looking across a small body of water somewhere near the Mintaro Hut towards some thin ephemeral waterfalls right before we had to climb up to Mackinnon Pass
Milford_Track_day3_030_11282004 - Looking down into Clinton Valley as we were making the climb up to Mackinnon Pass just as the sun briefly made an appearance
Milford_Track_day3_033_11282004 - Some blooming white flowers alongside the ascent up to Mackinnon Pass as seen on day 3 of the Milford Track
Milford_Track_day3_035_11282004 - Context of some parts of the climb up to Mackinnon Pass on Day 3, which seemed to be a bit on the rough side, especially while carrying a pack
Milford_Track_day3_039_11282004 - Continuing on the long ascent up to Mackinnon Pass just as the weather was starting to make a turn for the worst on day 3 of the Milford Track
Milford_Track_day3_040_11282004 - Arduously making our climb up the switchbacks towards Mackinnon Pass on day 3 of the Milford Track
Milford_Track_day3_042_11282004 - Looking back into the head of Clinton Valley just as the weather was really turning bad on day 3 of the Milford Track
Milford_Track_day3_043_11282004 - Julie approaching the Quintin Mackinnon Memorial atop Mackinnon Pass
Milford_Track_day3_049_11282004 - Another look towards the Quintin Mackinnon Memorial atop Mackinnon Pass accompanied by a couple of tarns
Milford_Track_day3_052_11282004 - Continuing to hike beyond the Quintin Mackinnon Memorial towards some more climbing ultimately up to the Pass Shelter on day 3 of the Milford Track
Milford_Track_day3_059_11282004 - Descending towards the Pass Hut Shelter just as the weather continued to deteriorate on Mackinnon Pass during day 3 of the Milford Track
Milford_Track_day3_061_11282004 - Looking into Clinton Valley from atop Mackinnon Pass as the weather turned for the worse on day 3 of the Milford Track
Milford_Track_day3_063_11282004 - Approaching the Pass Hut Shelter just as the weather really started to get nasty so the hot drinks we were served there really hit the spot
Milford_Track_day3_065_11282004 - Entering the lush Arthur Valley after leaving the Pass Hut Shelter on day 3 of the Milford Track
Milford_Track_day3_069_11282004 - Looking into the top of the Anderson Cascades
Milford_Track_day3_071_11282004 - Context of the lookout for the uppermost of the Anderson Cascades as seen during the descent from Mackinnon Pass
Milford_Track_day3_072_11282004 - Looking back at part of the Anderson Cascades as the Milford Track went alongside it
Milford_Track_day3_077_11282004 - Looking up along the many tiers of the Anderson Cascades
Milford_Track_day3_083_11282004 - Looking at an attractive waterwheel on the Anderson Cascades
Milford_Track_day3_086_11282004 - Partial look at a couple of the tiers of the Anderson Cascades as the Milford Track continued to descend alongside the stream
Milford_Track_day3_087_11282004 - Towards the bottom of the Anderson Cascades, we had to traverse a large boulder field before resuming our descent to the Quintin Lodge
Milford_Track_day3_092_11282004 - Zoomed in look at the Dudleigh Falls as seen towards the end of day 3 of the Milford Track
Milford_Track_day3_095_11282004 - Looking over the top of Lindsay Falls
Milford_Track_day3_096_11282004 - Profile view of Lindsay Falls through the foliage
Milford_Track_day3_098_11282004 - Looking upstream at what appeared to be the bottom of Lindsay Falls at the bottom of the long descent towards the Quintin Lodge
Milford_Track_day3_104_11282004 - Walking before yet more ephemeral waterfalls on the Sutherland Falls track
Milford_Track_day3_105_11282004 - The sign telling me that I was as far from Sutherland Falls as it was tall
Milford_Track_day3_108_11282004 - Pleasing contextual view of Sutherland Falls as I was approaching it
Milford_Track_day3_111_11282004 - Some people being dwarfed by Sutherland Falls even with the forced perspective as I got closer to its base
Milford_Track_day3_112_11282004 - Sign proclaiming that I had made it to the base of Sutherland Falls
Milford_Track_day3_117_11282004 - Focused on the lowermost tier of Sutherland Falls at its base
Milford_Track_day3_123_11282004 - Looking back at the valley that I had to walk through in order to reach the base of Sutherland Falls from the Quintin Lodge
Milford_Track_day4_002_11292004 - Looking ahead at the continuation of the Milford Track first thing in the morning before getting started on the last full day of the tramp
Milford_Track_day4_006_11292004 - Distant view of Sutherland Falls shrouded in rain clouds from the Milford Track on Day 4
Milford_Track_day4_010_11292004 - Looking up at some random side waterfall early on in day 4 of the Milford Track
Milford_Track_day4_012_11292004 - It was noticeably more lush in Arthur Valley than it was in Clinton Valley on day 4 of the Milford Track
Milford_Track_day4_014_11292004 - Julie on the boardwalk at the Gentle Annie portion of Day 4 of the Milford Track
Milford_Track_day4_017_11292004 - Looking in the distance towards some random waterfall spilling at a former landslip while tramping day 4 of the Milford Track
Milford_Track_day4_020_11292004 - Looking over a boggy body of water at the Gentle Annie part of day 4 of the Milford Track. Notice the landslip and waterfall in it in the background
Milford_Track_day4_023_11292004 - Beyond Gentle Annie, the Milford Track opened up again and we got to see a few more ephemeral waterfalls flanking us
Milford_Track_day4_025_11292004 - Continuing on day 4 of the Milford Track as the path was now pretty much flat for the rest of the way
Milford_Track_day4_026_11292004 - Looking towards another waterfall tumbling into the Arthur Valley as seen during day 4 of the Milford Track
Milford_Track_day4_030_11292004 - Looking over a boggy portion with lots of standing water in Arthur Valley during day 4 of the Milford Track
Milford_Track_day4_034_11292004 - Traversing one of the more extensive landslips on day 4, which seemed to be quite common in the history of the Milford Track
Milford_Track_day4_035_11292004 - Approaching the Boat Shed Shelter
Milford_Track_day4_037_11292004 - Looking further down the Arthur Valley from the Boat Shed Shelter on day 4 of the Milford Track
Milford_Track_day4_043_11292004 - Crossing over the swinging bridge traversing the Arthur River after leaving the Boat Shed Shelter
Milford_Track_day4_045_11292004 - Context of the narrowness of the swinging bridge beyond the Boat Shed Shelter on day 4 of the Milford Track
Milford_Track_day4_046_11292004 - Looking back upstream from the Arthur Valley from the swinging bridge just past the Boat Shed Shelter
Milford_Track_day4_059_11292004 - Passing through a very lush rainforest between the Boat Shed and MacKay Falls
Milford_Track_day4_060_11292004 - Walking alongside MacKay Creek
Milford_Track_day4_063_11292004 - Finally making it to the lookout at MacKay Falls
Milford_Track_day4_073_11292004 - Bell Rock, which was besides MacKay Falls
Milford_Track_day4_074_11292004 - A ghostly-looking mossy tree in an open part of Day 4 of the Milford Track beyond Mackay Falls
Milford_Track_day4_077_11292004 - Context of that ghostly-looking mossy tree as seen in day 4 of the Milford Track somewhere beyond Mackay Falls
Milford_Track_day4_079_11292004 - This was the typical scene on Day 4 of the Milford Track through the lush Arthur Valley
Milford_Track_day4_080_11292004 - Julie getting through a pretty rough landslip traverse in day 4 of the Milford Track
Milford_Track_day4_082_11292004 - Looking across the Arthur River towards some other unnamed waterfall on day 4 of the Milford Track
Milford_Track_day4_084_11292004 - Context of looking across the Arthur River towards an ephemeral waterfall on day 4 of the Milford Track
Milford_Track_day4_091_11292004 - Walking up alongside a part of the track that was the result of prison labour in 1890-1892 during day 4 of the Milford Track
Milford_Track_day4_095_11292004 - Another look at the cliff-ledge portion of day 4 of the Milford Track in context with the Arthur River and Valley to the right as seen on day 4 of the Milford Track
Milford_Track_day4_097_11292004 - Finally making it to the Giant Gate Falls
Milford_Track_day4_103_11292004 - Passing besides a pair of segmented waterfalls (I doubt this was Camp Oven Falls, which was another one of the named waterfalls near Sandfly Point)
Milford_Track_day4_106_11292004 - Signposted detour leading to Lake Ada during day 4 of the Milford Track
Milford_Track_day4_107_11292004 - Some people chilling out before the shores of Lake Ada during day 4 of the Milford Track
Milford_Track_day4_113_11292004 - Following Julie on the home stretch to Sandfly Point at the end of the Milford Track
Milford_Track_day4_119_11292004 - Looking across the Arthur River towards another ephemeral waterfall somewhere near Sandfly Point
Milford_Track_day4_122_11292004 - Looking ahead towards the Milford Sound as we were leaving Sandfly Point at the end of the Milford Track
Milford_Track_day4_128_11292004 - Looking back at a few ephemeral waterfalls while boating from Sandfly Point to the Milford Sound
Milford_Track_day4_137_11292004 - Another bonus of the Milford Track was getting to check out Bowen Falls as we were boated from Sandfly Point to the wharf at the Milford Sound

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Since we did the more expensive guided tramp of the Milford Track through Ultimate Hikes, we only had to drive to their office near the centre of Te Anau (just a few buildings north of the Visitor Centre) since that was where we were staying.

I believe they tend to cater to guests starting and ending in Queenstown, which was why we had to arrange for our own transport to leave the car at their Te Anau facility during our multi-day tramp.

Hardier independent trampers were supposed to find transport or drive to Te Anau Downs (by the Boat Harbour section of Lake Te Anau) about 30km north of Te Anau along SH94.

The boat shuttle would then take them up to the start of the track at the head of Lake Te Anau.

For more context, Te Anau was about 171km (2 hours drive) southwest of Queenstown and 153km (2 hours drive) north of Invercargill.

Tagged with: milford, fiordland, milford track, southland, south island, new zealand, waterfall, mackinnon, lake quill, giant gate falls, mackay falls, quintin falls, hirere falls, great walks, lindsay falls, dudleigh falls, roaring burn, arthur, clinton, te anau



Visitor Comments:

Milford track guide September 21, 2010 1:13 pm by Jenny Lenavena - This is the most beautiful spot I ever had. It has very unique features in it such as the flora and the fauna, bird life, mountains, rivers etc. High precaution must be taken as it is said that precaution is better than cure. Visiting Milford Track, Routeburn Track, Kepler Track, Greenstone Track, Capels Track, Heaphy… ...Read More

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Visitor Reviews of this Waterfall:

Unforgettable Day! (Hirere Falls) March 26, 2010 12:00 pm by Jacques - It was a beautiful sunny day when a friend and I recently walked along the Clinton River, Day2 Milford Sound track NZ, on the way to Mintaro Hut. We had very early on noticed the Hirere Falls jetting out like a fire hose from the mountain. After passing the guided walkers' stop-off at Hirere Hut,… ...Read More

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Johnny Cheng

About Johnny Cheng

Johnny Cheng is the founder of the World of Waterfalls and author of the award-winning A Guide to New Zealand Waterfalls. Over the last 2 decades, he has visited thousands of waterfalls in over 40 countries around the world and nearly 40 states in the USA.
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