Milford Track pg 2

Day 4 (7th March): Quintin Lodge to Mitre Peak - (21km)

This was the final day on the Milford Track. We followed the Arthur River as it made its way to Milford Sound. We walked through deep luxuriant beech forest, a final view of Sutherland Falls, glimpses of Diamond Creek and Danger Mountain could be seen before arriving at Boatshed for morning tea.

From here we crossed the river by cable-bridge and carried on to MacKay Falls and Bell Rock.

An hour further on the track and after passing the 28-mile post at about 11.30am, I took a look at Lake Ada on my right without stopping. Suddenly my right foot caught a root and I tripped and pitched forward and landed with my face on a rock! I tried to cushion the fall with my hands but with a 7-8kg backpack on my back, the fall was too fast and heavy to stop. I immediately felt a severe pain on my right forehead and blood was oozing out from the wound. I turned my body and Kenny, who was a few meters ahead of me, was immediately beside me. He took some soft tissue paper and pressed it over my bleeding wound. I lied on my back with the backpack still in place, and tried to relax hoping that the bleeding would stop soon. About ten minutes later, KC and GK, who were behind us, arrived and they too tried their best to cool me down and cleaned the blood stains from my face, right ear and neck. Soon the bleeding stopped and my friends cleaned the wound and placed a piece of gauze over it. They then helped me on my feet and removed my backpack.

While on my feet, I felt alright and the pain had subsided. My vision was near normal and I could proceed with the track. My backpack was carried by GK and slowly we walked for about an hour and near the 30-mile post we arrived at the shelter near the Giant Gate Falls for lunch. 


At the lunch stop, two walkers - Dr Marian from Australia and Dr Dan from USA took a look at my wound and advised me that the wound had to be cleaned and stitched. Therefore I had to go to the nearest medical centre for treatment. In the mean time Dr Marian removed the gauze and replaced it with a new plaster. Our guide, Jess was with us and she said she would seek assistance when we reached our destination at Milford Sound.

After lunch, we resumed our track with most of the stuff in my backpack taken off and carried by Kenny, KC and GK. The final stretch of the track was flat and it followed the tranquil Lake Ada to Sandfly Point. We arrived at Sandfly Point just past 4.00pm and missed the first launch to Milford Sound.

From Sandfly Point, we caught the launch to Milford Sound at 4.15pm and arrived at Mitre Peak Lodge before 5.00pm. Mitre Peak Lodge is owned and operated by Ultimate Hikes. I was supposed to enjoy a celebratory dinner at the Lodge and relax with the knowledge that the hard part was now behind me.

                                                                   Mitre Peak Lodge

There was not a single medical clinic in Milford Sound and the nearest one was in Te Anau, 120km away. Our guide, Jess contacted a medical centre in Te Anau and requested for an ambulance to come to Milford Sound to send me to the Te Anau for treatment as there was no taxi or bus plying between Milford Sound and Te Anau. But because the injury was not serious, the request was rejected. The only option left was to find a good Samaritan with a car to drive me to the only medical centre in Te Anau. As luck would have it, I was delighted that a senior staff of Mitre Peak Lodge, Mr Aidan Kenny volunteered to provide the transport by driving me in his car to Te Anau.

In the mean time, Jess telephoned the medical centre in Ta Anau and spoke to a doctor about my condition and requested a doctor to attend to me when we arrived at the centre in about two hours.

Aidan was friendly and we had a pleasant drive to the medical centre in Te Anau. As the medical centre was closed for the day, a doctor in attendance, Dr David Hamilton arrived at the medical centre soon after we arrived. I was immediately led to the operating room and my wound was immediately attended to. Local anaesthetic was applied and the doctor started to clean the wound which was about 5cm long and 4mm deep. He said there was a lot of debris in the wound and he took more than 15 minutes to remove them. He then closed the wound with six sutures. A special plaster was placed over the treated wound so the water could not seep in when taking showers. He told me to replace the plaster when necessary and gave me a couple for replacement. He told me also to remove the sutures on 14 March (I got it done in Auckland). The whole treatment was completed in just over 30 minutes! The bill for the treatment was $90.00. I thanked him profusely and with Aidan, we returned to Milford Sound and reached Mitre Peak Lodge at about 10pm.

My walking friends and some other walkers were in the lodge’s lounge when I returned and they were jubilant to see that I was back to normal. Though I missed the evening’s session and dinner, I was glad that nothing serious had happened to me.

Day 5 (8th March): Milford Sound to Queenstown by coach

After breakfast, while the walkers embarked on their Milford Sound cruise, I decided to stay back at the Lodge and to do nothing slowly. I had been on this cruise three times and I did not feel that I would miss anything if I gave it a miss.

At the Mitre Peak Lodge, the views of Mitre Peak, often referred to as the “eighth wonder of the world”, were superb. From outside the Mitre Peak Lodge I managed to take a few shots of Mitre Peak.

At 10.30am, I boarded the coach which departed from the Lodge to fetch the walkers at the wharf who returned from the Milford Sound cruise. From Milford Sound we returned to Queenstown via Te Anau (arriving at approx 3.30pm) thus completing our journey of the "finest walk in the world."

D.  Epilogue


Milford’s reputation as being one of the wettest places on earth is not unfounded. With a mean annual rainfall of 6,800mm on 182 days, Milford Sound is known as the wettest place in New Zealand and one of wettest in the world. Rainfall can reach 250mm during a span of 24 hours.

Also Fiordland is known to have “four seasons in one day” as the weather there is influenced by Tasman Sea and great mountain ranges and is therefore very changeable. Summers can bring warm and longer days, but also awesome rainfall on frequent occasions. It is commonly acknowledged that out of the four days of tramping the Milford Track, there will be at least a day of rain.

However, in our sojourn in the Fiordland, we did not encounter any drizzles during all the days we were on the track. The day temperatures were in their twenties and at nights over tens. Why?

My walking friends are aware that with me around trekking all over the world with them, rains have mystically shied away from us. There is no exception during this Milford Tack.

The news about my “ability” was spread among the walkers and all were happy with my mystical “ability”. In particular, Dr Dan would personally thank me at every dinner for the fine weather we had during the day’s track.


Milford Track has been known throughout the world as the “finest walk in the world”. However, after more than a dozen tramping and trekking expeditions all over the world, I am quite skeptical about the perception bestowed for Milford Track. Undoubtedly, it is a fine and comparatively easy walk with its stunning scenery of mountains, rivers, forests, rivers, lakes and waterfalls. However, in comparison with the scenery in Huangshan in China and Maliau Basin in Sabah, the latter is much more varied and stunning than that of the Milford Track. However, the facilities provided, in particular by Ultimate Hikes are most comprehensive and excellent I have ever experienced. But it is also the most expensive tramp per day we had undertaken so far. 

This is the first time in all my travelling and tramping adventures that I had injured myself. I am still horrified by the trauma of the fall. What would happen if the accident were to happen during the second or third day of our track when we were in the midst of the wilderness?  What if we were independent walkers?  What if my eye were to hit the rock? What if….

I wish to record my sincere thanks to all the fellows who had rendered assistance and advice, in particular Dr Dan and Dr Marian. Many thanks also to Aidan who went out of his way to drive me to Te Anau and back for my medical treatment. And thanks also to Jess and Ultimate Hikes for the services rendered.

Last but not least, my thanks again to all my friends who took good care of me when I was desperately in trouble. A friend in need is a friend indeed!


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