Day Twenty – The Milford Road

Today we are travelling to Milford Sound along the Milford Road which I’m told is extremely picturesque, so I’m sure it’s going to take a while!
It doesn’t take long before I’m parked at the side of the road and out taking pictures in the Eglington Valley, the scale of which my little brain is struggling to comprehend.
Onto the Mirror Lakes, which for some reason I had bigger expectations off after reading the guide book. This literally is a lake at the side of the road that in certain conditions is quite reflective, and indeed it was, but it was quite small and unless you like staring into water for hours on end, can take as little as 5-10 minutes to walk along – we got a little side-tracked watching a diving duck, a Scaup, which is the smallest duck species in New Zealand according to the handy roadside information board.

Laura had spotted a ‘short’ hike in the guide book which sounded good, so we got to the start point and prepared our kit. Whilst it was only 3-4 hours round trip, the weather had taken a turn for the worse so we didn’t want to get caught out especially as we were ascending too. A few layers on, wet weather jackets and enough water/snacks in the packs and we were off to find Lake Marian…..or so we thought. The trail starts off by following a stream up a series of waterfalls, through some pretty dense forest, which was beautiful and things started out well until, we somehow took a wrong turn – which neither of us noticed. We followed a track, which was getting smaller and smaller and by the time I started scrambling up rocks and lowering myself down slopes using trees as anchors, I think we both realised something wasn’t quite right. The couple we had been following had long since turned back as it was too sketchy but I plowed on. My theory being that as long as the stream was on my right it’d be ok and sure enough we hit the correct trail.
After we’d been walking for 1h40mins, we technically should have been at the Lake, it had started to rain quite heavily and we only had about 2 hours of light left, the trail was getting slippery underfoot and I think Lau was a little nervous of the walk back. I ran (literally) up the trail for a bit, hoping that I’d see the end of the dense forest and some sign of a massive lake but there was no sign, just more forest. Turning back, and finding Lau on the trail, I delivered the news. With heavy hearts we turned back and started the descent back to the van. We found the correct way back and I estimated we lost about 20-30mins when we went ‘off-track’ and so we’d probably needed to walk on for at least that when we decided to turn back.
When we reached the stream (and the waterfalls), we’d made the right decision, the rain had caused the stream to swell to a river and the noise was deafening as we got closer. Things change here so quickly!
By the time we got back to the van, the light had started to fade and the rain intensified so we got some food out and had a mini-lunch in the van overlooking the river. We may not have found Lake Marian, but we’d had a bloody good walk through some beautiful terrain.

From there it was another 40 minutes drive to Milford Lodge, our overnight stopping point and it was pitch black and raining heavily when we got parked up for the night. Feeling tired and a little soggy, we perked up a bit with some wine and cider in the Lodge (and some warmth) before nice, hot showers and dinner in the van.

Lights out early as we are kayaking Milford Sound tomorrow morning…I’m not a bit excited 😉


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