Dubbed the world’s greatest walk, this is the country’s premier track. It can only be walked in one direction and by just 40 people a day.
Glade Wharf to Clinton Hut
After a boat cruise across Lake Te Anau to Glade Wharf, it’s a leisurely walk alongside the Clinton River, through beech forest, to Clinton Hut. There are swimming holes in the river and, from the hut, a short wetland walk.
Clinton Hut to Mintaro Hut
Walkers continue up the Clinton Valley in easy fashion and gradually climb to meet the river’s source at Lake Mintaro. The upper valley is a dramatic place – especially the Clinton Canyon, a defile of rock and precipice 2000m high, split by fissures where waterfalls tumble. The new Mintaro Hut (built in 2021) sits amongst the forest a short distance from Lake Mintaro and about 1hr from Mackinnon Pass. If the weather is fine, it might be worth heading up to the pass immediately, rather than waiting until the next day and possible rain.
Mintaro Hut to Dumpling Hut
Mintaro Hut is the staging point for tackling Mackinnon Pass – the crux of the trip. It’s a steady 550m climb up a steep zig-zag trail and is the most challenging day of the walk. But the gorgeous views to Lake Mintaro and the Clinton Canyon encourage a slow pace.
From the pass, it’s down through an alpine garden alongside the Roaring Burn River and on to Quintin Lodge and day shelter at the confluence with the Arthur River.
From the shelter, there is a side trip to Sutherland Falls (580m, 90min return) – one of New Zealand’s highest waterfalls. The track then continues down the Arthur Valley to Dumpling Hut.
Dumpling Hut to Sandfly Point
From the hut, walkers follow the Arthur River, passing Mackay Falls and Giant Gates Falls. The track carries on around Lake Ada to reach aptly-named Sandfly Point and the boat to Milford Sound.
- Total Ascent
- Four days. To Clinton Hut, 1-2hr; To Mintaro Hut, 6hr; To Dumpling Hut, 6-7hr; To Sandfly Point, 5-6hr
- Clinton Hut (40 bunks), Mintaro Hut (40 bunks), Dumpling Hut (40 bunks)
- By boat from Te Anau Downs
- CB08, CB09