Today we got all the rain we’d missed earlier on the Track. Milford is considered one of the rainiest places on Earth with some justification. It gets between 7 and 13m of rain a year; and even spread over the two-hundred-and-something days a year that it rains that’s a lot in a day. For us that meant it rained pretty much without ceasing for the day. And that was a good thing.
The last day of the track sees you walking almost half the 53km distance. It’s largely flat or undulating track, but 22km is a fairly long walk under any circumstances especially when you have a boat on a timetable to catch at the end. The kids set a cracking pace and we managed to cover the distance in just over six hours including stops.
The good thing about the rain was that it made the lush ferns and mosses come alive with glinting lights. The surrounding cliffs were equally alive, but for them it was with falling water. Streams of water burbled merrily alongside, and often over, the Track.
Apart from the rain and the boat the other reason for keeping moving was the sandflies. There are sandlfies all along the Track so the fact that they bothered to name one specific area Sandfly Point tells you something,. Every time we stopped we were immediately surrounded by clouds flies dive-bombing any exposed skin. Even repellant was only roughly helpful – they wouldn’t touch the bits of actually covered with repellant, but they were adept at finding even the smallest spot you’d missed. We had lunch under the chilly spray of Giant’s Gate Falls in a vain effort to keep the sandflies somewhat at bay.
The very last part of the walk turned into a bit of route march over a series of swing bridges and through yet more ferns and waterfalls about which it must be said we were becoming a bit blase unless they were truly stunning. It was pretty but as the last kilometres rolled by our feet and legs were demanding increasing levels of attention.
And then we were there the 53km marker and the waiting boat. The Milford Track was a great walk: very beautiful and just challenging enough. The wonderful weather made some of our clever planning redundant, but also made the whole experience very, very special.