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Dore Pass, Fiordland National Park

Image of the November 2021 Wilderness Magazine Cover Read more from the
November 2021 Issue

Heralded as a ‘secret door’ to the Milford Track, Dore Pass has a legacy of rebellion. By Nicola Billitz

From its completion in 1908, the Milford Track was originally used exclusively by the Tourist Hotel Corporation. Frustrated trampers continually failed to gain independent access until 1965, when the Otago Tramping Club decided to hold a hiking protest – the freedom walk. Club members rebelliously marched over Dore Pass and onto the Milford Track. A few weeks later, freedom walking was allowed on the track. 

From the car park on the Te Anau/Milford Highway, first cross the Eglinton River, then scour the tree line until the bright orange triangle is visible. That’s the start of the Dore Pass Route. 

It’s a steady plod uphill until Murcott Burn is reached, where a brief respite from the ascent can be enjoyed. Stay right and if the water is low enough, use the creek to ascend as the bush is quite dense.

Stay on the creek’s true left and begin the ascent on a bush-covered spur. There is a decent campsite here, large enough for two tents. 

The route leaves Murcott Burn and ascends the valley sidewall, gaining height continually for around an hour. The headwall of the Burn is crossed before the route swings a hard right. 

Follow nine snow poles to Dore Pass. 

Once on the pass, follow the route to the right and slightly down until it goes flat around the 1300m contour. Traverse beneath Pt1585 for 45 minutes to gain the spur leading to Pt1543 that leads down to the bushline. Poles mark the way through at least three scree sections with exposed runoffs. 

The descent begins on the ridge at 1390m. Just before the tree line, it gets very boggy. 

From the bushline, it’s a long and painful downhill. It’s also quite slippery, and treefall might obscure the otherwise distinct path. 

Eventually, the path flattens out to the sandfly-invested Glade Burn, and from here, it is a cruisy, flat path to Glade House. It’s about 2km to Clinton Hut from here. 

For those not continuing on the Milford Track, water taxis can be booked for pick-up from Glade Wharf, or a walk (and camp) back over Dore Pass is required.  

Distance
10km to Glade House
Total Ascent
13223m
Grade
Moderate / Difficult
Time
Pass, 4-5hr; to Glade House, 3.5-4.5hr
Access
Te Anau Milford Highway
Map
CB08

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