Milford Sound Day Walks: Hike Rainforest & Alpine Trails
The Milford Road offers a wealth of short hike and day walk options that are able to be explored without a guide.
Walk through lush rainforest. Hike alpine tracks to stunning waterfalls, ice fields and mountain lakes. What would you like to see?
- Gertrude Valley – 4-5 Hours – Summer / Autumn – Climb to Gertrude Saddle; an exciting and hard to forget alpine hiking experience offering stunning mountain views, waterfalls and ice fields.
- Grave Talbot – 3-4 Hours – Upper Track: Summer / Autumn – Follow raging Fiordland rives to the Esperance River Grasslands or simply stroll alongside the Gulliver River.
- Key Summit – 3 Hours – All year – Walk to Key Summit, along a well-formed track suitable for all, for unforgettable 360-degree lake to sea views of Fiordland
- Lake Marian – 3-4 Hours – All year – Climb to a beautiful alpine lake alongside raging mountain rivers or take an easy 20 minute stroll along Marian Creek to take in an exceptional view.
- Tutoko – 5-6 Hours – All year – Walk through enchanting rainforest and enjoy views of Fiordland’s highest peak and witness the Herbert Icefields dropping into the Leader Creek.
Because of the steepness of the mountains in Milford Sound there aren’t many walks located right in Milford Sound itself – many of the above are located along the Milford Road.
Looking for more of a challenge? Consider tackling one of Fiordland’s famous multi-day hikes.
Gertrude Valley Walk
One of New Zealand’s most accessible alpine walks. An exciting 4-5 hour walk with sensational views to Milford Sound and the surrounding Darran Mountains.
The first hour follows the valley floor before climbing large granite slabs and outcrops to Black Lake. The Ice Fields above feed numerous waterfalls on rock faces all around the valley.
The final exhilarating climb to Gertrude Saddle provides a vista of Alpine Peaks, with the classic U shaped, glacially carved valleys below. Take a picnic lunch and enjoy the alpine environment for the afternoon. Not suitable in wet/wintery conditions.
A caution from DOC: “[…]parts of the track are very steep and not suitable for those with limited tramping experience, or a dislike for heights. The track goes up steep rock slabs and is treacherous when wet or frosty – there are steel cables to assist you.”
Grave Talbot Walk
(Lower track all year, Upper track summer/autumn) – Experience the ground shuddering rumble that comes from walking next to a raging Fiordland River. This track follows the Gulliver River as it thunders down through the forest to the valley floor. Large Rimu and Beech trees line the river and provide a majestic canopy above the track.
The upper reaches of this track follows the Esperance River to emerge into the grasslands at the base of the rockwalls below Mt McPherson.
A 3-4 hour round trip to the Esperance River grasslands, but can be reduced to a shorter stroll along the Gulliver River. The upper track is exposed to avalanche in winter and spring.
Key Summit Walk
(All year) – A comfortable 3 hour walk along the Routeburn Track to the summit for spectacular views to Mt Christina and the Darran Mountains.
This walk is suitable for all people with a well formed “sandshoe” track right to the top.
Climb through the stunted alpine vegetation, above the bushline and amongst alpine tarns. On clear days experience 360° panoramic views, south to Lake Te Anau and north past Mt Tutoko to Martins Bay. On the right day a perfect place for a picnic lunch or sunset drink. In winter and spring snow often occurs on the summit and sometimes along the length of the track.
(All year) – Water is definitely the feature of this walk. From the rolling waters of the Hollyford River to the raging Marian Creek and finally the picturesque Lake Marian, this walk provides spectacular views of the immense rock faces and alpine peaks that tower high above.
In the warmer months the lake is an ideal place to lounge around in the sun, possibly even an invigorating swim. Leave the sandflies in the valley and enjoy some time amongst the alpine flowers. In winter watch spectacular avalanches roar down the mountains behind Lake Marian.
This walk takes 3-4 hours comfortably, but does involve a consistent climb to the Lake. For a shorter experience take 20 minutes to experience the thundering Marian Creek from a modern walkway with exceptional vantage points.
(All year) – An enchanted rainforest walk with plenty of ferns, moss, lichens and bubbling streams.
This track provides an opportunity to experience the unique rainforest flora along the valley floor with exceptional views of Mt Tutoko 2834m (Fiordland’s highest peak) at the end of the track. Watch the icefalls drop from the Herbert Icefields into the upper reaches of Leader Creek.
A 5-6 hour round trip allows plenty of time to explore the river banks and enjoy the alpine scenery.
Not sure which hike will suit you? Talk to our knowledgeable staff they’ll be happy to help you decide before or after you arrive.