Thursday, October 18, 2007

Milford Madness!

Come February, G and I are planning a wonderful 6-week trip around New Zealand's South Island, doing short (2-5 day) tramps in as many places as possible.

The most famous track in the country, without a doubt, is the Milford Track. It's known around the world, and as you can see from the picture, the superlatives are right up there. I know it will mean going on an expensive and crowded "Great Walk", but I just have to see "the finest walk in the world" for myself - just this once!

Since we finally decided on the dates for our trip, I went to book us onto the Milford Track straight away. After all, the finest walk in the world fills up fast during the all-too-short summer tramping season in Fiordland. But I figured four months ahead was pretty good planning on our part. Since you must do the track in one direction, and you must stay in the huts (no tent camping), they control the numbers of people allowed on the track at any one time. Basically, 40 independent walkers can start on any given day, because that's the capacity of the huts.

But when I looked at the booking page on our choice of dates, it was already fully booked out! In fact, the first three weeks of February were completely full. I'm sure that December and January are long gone too. In the end, I booked us in for about a week later than we were planning.

To add insult to injury, the huts (mandatory, remember!) on the track are obscenely expensive. It costs $40 per person per night, for a total of $120 to walk the track. But that's not all... You also have to take a boat to the trail head at $59 per person, and a boat from the end of the hike to Milford Sound for another $29 per person. In all, for two of us to complete the Milford Track, we have to spend at least $416.

All I can say is, this had better be the finest damn walk in the world!

We are only doing one other "Great Walk" during our trip - which will be the Routeburn Track. Thankfully there are no boats required to access that one, and only two nights on the track. Also, if you don't mind carrying your tent, you can choose to camp for $10 per person instead of paying $40 for the huts.

For anyone now second-guessing their plans to come to New Zealand - let me just stress that these expensive huts are only on the "Great Walks", and in fact these ones in Fiordland are more expensive than the rest. For a standard hut, you can buy a $5 hut ticket, and for a fancier hut it's $10. Only the "Great Walks" require bookings, and only during peak season.


dogscratcher said...

Off topic, but do you have a preferred outlet for your book? Is one place as good as another? If so, I'll wait for it to show up at my local REI, otherwise let me know where to buy that gets you the most money. DS

E-mail: said...

I'm all for buying from your local REI instead of Amazon. Co-ops rock!

Shouldn't be far off now. The books are in the country at least, and Amazon got their shipment so REI can't be too far behind.

It's not showing up at though, so anyone north of the border - maybe consider ordering from the US site, sorry :o(

dogscratcher said...

REI isn't much of a "co-op" anymore: sometime in the late 80's or early 90's they radically changed their business model. They are definitely not my first choice for outdoor equipment, but are still better than most. DS