29 May 2023
Although I’m a big fan of New Zealand scenery and tourism I had embarrassingly not completed any of our great walks, so this past summer I set about changing that by signing up for the Hollyford Valley walk in Fiordland.
The Hollyford Valley Walk is a 3 day hiking trail which traverses through the beautiful Hollyford Valley, offering stunning natural landscapes, native wildlife, and rich history. The walk can be done independently or with a guided tour, I chose the latter with experienced guides who can offer insights into the local flora, fauna, and history. The cooked meals, hot showers, a jet boat, and helicopter ride were an added incentive.
So 16 of us, including my partner and my mother started the track, about half way along the road to Milford Sound, in perfect blue sky weather. The first day is a big one, 19.5km’s carrying a pack, although it’s mostly flat and there is plenty of native flora and hidden waterfalls to stop and look at.
Tired legs were very happy to arrive at Pyke Lodge, nestled beneath Mt. Madeline. We celebrated the day with a glass of wine, plentiful cheese board, and then an impressive venison meal cooked up by the lodge hosts.
6:45 am was the wake-up call the next morning and after a hearty cooked breakfast, we took a short walk to Lake Alabaster. Once again it was a beautiful calm morning with not even a ripple on the lake which make the reflections of beech forest and the mountains very impressive. It’s a great spot for photography and relaxation. On the way back we crossed the Pyke Bridge – the longest swing bridge in Fiordland National Park.
The adventure continued as we boarded a jet boat for a trip down the Hollyford River and across Lake McKerrow. We continued walking through podocarp forest with old rimu, kahikatea, and totara giants. We emerged to a clearing in the forest to find a marque set up, the table laid and a beautiful lunch awaiting us – this is hiking in style!
We continued walking towards the coast during the afternoon, took another short jet boat ride, and arrived at Martins Bay Lodge. After a hot shower, we tucked into a beautiful meal of fresh blue cod!
On our final morning, we explored Martins Bay Spit walking over sand dunes, looking at the remains of old settlements, and enjoying a relaxed wander along an isolated beach back to the lodge.
Shortly afterward 3 helicopters arrived on the lawn of the lodge and we embarked on a scenic flight down the coast and into the grandeur of Milford Sound. We had perfect weather and flying alongside the vertical granite cliffs before arriving into the Milford Sound airport was a fine way to end our journey.
Hollyford Wilderness Experience who run the guided walks provided a fabulous experience, everything was of an extremely high standard and our guides were most friendly and knowledgeable. I’m keen to explore some more of NZ’s famous walks, but I’m pretty sure I started with one of the best.
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