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The Fiordland National Park in New Zealand


Photo: James Frankham / NY Times

I've always wanted to visit New Zealand ever since I saw The Lord of the Rings movies, and this feature at the New York Times by Robert D. Hershey Jr. just added a lot of fuel to my wanderlust fire:

IN 1908, The Spectator magazine called the 33.5-mile Milford Track through Fiordland National Park in New Zealand “the finest walk in the world,” an honorific still credible to knowledgeable hikers — one fan was Sir Edmund Hillary — a full century later.

The park, part of the Te Wahipounamu Unesco World Heritage Site, is of jaw-dropping beauty, a rare combination of rain forest, rushing rivers and glacially carved alpine heights that yields vistas that make you think you’ve stepped into a picture postcard. What’s more, novices as well as hardened trekkers can fully enjoy the delights of the Milford, which offers as much solitude as you could want and ambient water so pure you’re actually encouraged to drink whatever you can reach.

Wow. Just Wow. Has anyone ever been there? What's your experience? Link


Well, I just finished it 2 days ago :)

Its not bad, it depends on what your experiences are of tramping beforehand. It can be stunning if you havn't experienced the environment before, and although there might be individual features bettered elsewhere its a great package deal, great scenery, amazing waterfalls, lush vegetation.

Walking on a track with so many others isn't the greatest, but the track has some highlights and getting no rain over the time is a rare occurrence.

Here is a rough overview of our trip.

http://xmb.stuffucanuse.com/xmb/viewthread.php?tid=5863
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While I haven't done the Milford Track, I have walked the nearby Heaphy, which was largely opened to relieve demand for the Milford. It's a not-serious joke that the Milford is the tourist track, but that's because it's so popular, because it's so great.

It's kind of funny, since it's my own country, I don't have the same awe about places like Fiordland that other would, and indeed they probably deserve. But I would absolutely recommend it.
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Unfortunately, back in the 1980s when New Zealand's coal mines were closing and unemployment was hovering around 12%, the NZ government decided to make up for lost tax revenue by requiring visitors to the park to purchase hiking permits. As this low period in NZ's economy coincided with the Japanese economic boom of the 1980s, the permit fees were set with wealthy Japanese tourists in mind.

A one week permit for a single foreign hiker currently costs NZ$10,000,000 - about USD$15,000. A day-hiking permit can be purchased on the black market for about USD$500 in Christchurch.
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Don't listen to Adam Stanhope! You do not have to pay a permit to walk any track in New Zealand, let alone they crazy amounts he is talking about above! New Zealand is a great country with many lovely tracks and sites to see.
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as if there's a black market in new zealand, for hiking permits! haha thats just silly.new zealands pretty great, i have to say im pretty proud to live here! nz is beautiful, and the milford track is no exception
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I'm KIWI!!! (its what new Zealanders call ourselves) i live in New Zealand and i did the south island last year, its amazing, truly breathtaking... but alot of the LOTR is filmed in the north island (inland from Taranaki) but i've lived here all my life and only just done the south island, its so remote and you truly feel like the last people on earth its kinda nice.
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I was on the Doubtful Sound overnight cruise back in 2004. It was so beautiful, silent, pristine... I was actually in tears for a lot of the time. True. It haunts me now; I badly want to go back again.
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NZ is absolutely fantastic, accessible, affordable. Worth every minute and penny spent. Millford Sound is beyond speech. Here is a recap of my visit there: http://www.losie.org/wydarzenia/20071128-newzealand/NewZealandTeAnauMilfordSound/index.html
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Also, if your planned trip to NZ is more than 6 months away and you have already bought some NZ dollars, its a good idea to change them to Zimbabwean dollars until you leave so you don't lose too much money through inflation.
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Ditto what embilbie experienced- I cried on the boat out in Milford Sound- its' beauty is truly amazing. I have been to 4 continents, 25 countries and all the states in the US, and am an avid outdoors enthusiast, and I have never reacted to anything quite like I did there. Haunting, and VERY real. Always think of going back.
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Plan weeks/months even ahead for Milford. Typically I just turned up and there is no chance to walk it. Instead I chose to canoe and camp up Doubtfull Sound (so called because captain cook thought it was doubtfull they could land). The dramatic surroundings are just overwhelmingly cool there. We could hear Kiwi`s through the night while attacked my a gizillion bugs :-)
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I've been on an overnight cruise through the Milford sound. Definitely a beautiful place. NZ is an affordable place to trek about, if you can afford the flight to get there. It's a small country, but that is kind of a benefit b/c there's so much to see and it doesn't take that long to get from one gorgeous natural attraction to the next...Mountains, Sounds, Geysers, Beaches, etc. There's great fun to be had: sand tobogganing, white water rafting, sky diving, bungee jumping, skiing, snowboarding, etc.
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I've been on a kayaking trip through one of the non-Milford fjords. It was a day trip courtesy of a marvelous outfitter in Te Anau. The fjord was reached via a boat ride across a lake, a van-trip over a pass - My little group of kayakers (8 plus guide) were the only people we saw all day. We did see porpoises and penguins and seals, though. :) It was, seriously, among the most spectacular trips of my life-time.

As far as the Milford track goes, you would need very high tolerance for rain and muck! There really is no dry season there. If you can manage a few days of wet, though, it is spectacularly beautiful.

As for New Zealand - not only is the country of unparalleled beauty, but the people who live there are among the most kind and polite I've met anywhere. I deeply love NZ and I'd go back in a moment if I could.
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don't forget new zealand came out of the water (instead of separating from Gondwanaland) so there are no poisonous animal or insects or spiders of any sort, and only very seldom in the water (normally drifters from Australia) but on land it might be the safest place in the world... so safe alot of animals that arrived by flight (pre humans) have de-evolved in the absence of predators.
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I've wanted to go down to New Zealand since Willow came out. =) I hear the landing in Wellington is fun with the wind causing the plane to come in slightly sideways.
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