Where do I start?! New Zealand had been number one on my bucket list for as long as I can remember, and it didn’t disappoint. Don’t wait another moment, if New Zealand is the dream, find a way! The ‘Manuka’ trip was beyond any expectations I could have dreamed of! Yes it was physical, but our amazing guides Claire and Jess kept me going and the accomplishment and the views were always worth it. I have memories that will last a lifetime, best money I have EVER spent. Trust me, don’t wait! Go!
June Vidrine, Active Adventures New Zealand ‘Manuka’ trip, March 2017
A Day Walk on the Milford Track – Giant Gate Falls
A collection of thoughts and reflections from a New Zealand guide.
Many visitors to New Zealand arrive here with only several weeks to explore the country. New Zealand is famous for having so many different landscapes, not just between the North and South Islands, but within each island too. So if your time here is limited, then we’ve got a suggestion to help you make the most of it – why not do a day hike on the Milford Track? Rather than walking the whole thing, consider a day hike on one of the most beautiful sections, and free up some vacation time to explore some other Great Walks and stunning locations around the country.
Active Adventures New Zealand have recently launched a new trip to this end, called the Great Walks Discovery ‘Takahe’ trip. Over 5 days you can experience the most beautiful day walks on the Milford Track, the Routeburn Track, and the Kepler Track, as well as an overnight cruise on Doubtful Sound, and a hike to Ben Lomond above Queenstown. The trip is really popular, and their guests appreciate the opportunity to tick off sections of three of our world famous Great Walks in a short space of time.
One of those sections is the walk to Giant Gate Falls on the Milford Track. Sandfly Point is the traditional end point of the Milford Track, but it’s where you’ll start. You’ll hop off the boat and begin a walk of 1-2 hours, to Giant Gate Falls. The trail winds through thick beech forest, crossing the Arthur River, and subsequent tributaries. You’ll pass countless species of fern, hear New Zealand tuis, bellbirds, and kereru singing in the trees, and taste and smell the freshest air in the world.
You’ll find yourself chatting with your fellow travellers, or wandering along by yourself, reflecting. The way you reflect only when you’re out amongst nature, thinking about how lucky you are, or about your loved ones and how you hope they get to see this one day too. And as you’re thinking, or talking, we’ll emerge from the beech forest onto a swing bridge. It will be preceded by the low, warning rumble of the Giant Gate Falls up ahead. Walk to the middle of the swing bridge, that’s where you’ll get the best view.
The Giant Gate Falls are part of a tributary river which flows into Lake Ada, which you’ll have walked alongside for some of our journey. This thundering white water is destined for the Tasman Sea. These tributaries are brought to life by the high rainfall of the area, and contribute to the sizeable layer of fresh water on the surface of Milford Sound, and it is that freshwater layer which allows the abundance of marine life in the fiord to flourish.
The Falls are the halfway point for our day hike, you’ll most likely stop and eat some lunch on the trail, or boil up a billy of water and make hot drinks if it’s a chilly day. Then turn around and walk back the way you came, comparing photos of the beautiful waterfall, and feeling invigorated, and ready for the next experience on your New Zealand adventure.
- Great Walks Discovery ‘Takahe’ Trip – 5 days – all inclusive – Active Adventures.
- ‘Pristine New Zealand’ Trip – 13 days – all inclusive – New Zealand Walking Tours.
- ‘Beautiful South’ Trip – 10 days – all inclusive – New Zealand Walking Tours.
Or if your heart is set on walking the whole of the Milford Track, then check out Active Adventures’ Milford Hiking Adventure ‘Manuka’ Trip.
For more information on the Milford Track check out this page.