Our last day on the Milford Track, we woke up to steady rain on the roof of the Dumpling Hut. It was gonna be a long, wet 11.2 miles on the trail to Milford Sound.
Creek crossings from Dumpling Hut to Milford Sound
During our hut talk the night before, the Department of Conservation ranger warned us about all the creek crossings from Dumpling Hut to Milford Sound. He mentioned that your feet were going to get wet and there was nothing you could do about it. Boy, was he right.
With all of the rain that started overnight, the creeks were overflowing. Parts of the trail flooded. My shoes squeezed out water with every step.
Creek crossings generally make me nervous. (I fell in Havasu Creek once.) There was nothing to worry about here. None of the crossings were higher than my knees, and I’m 5 feet tall.
There were plenty of downed trees on the trail. This spot had a mini ladder to help navigate over. Other (fresher) sections made you hug the tree to shimmy over. The trail is unpredictable!
We took a short bathroom break at the Boat Shed, a third of the way through the day. Pictured above is the nicer hut for guided walks. The independent walker “shed” is nothing more than a shack with two single-occupancy bathrooms. There’s no room to sit, except on the steps. The sandflies were nutty here. We did not stop for long.
From the Boat Shed, the Milford Track makes a slight gain in elevation. You pass by Mackay Falls and Bell Rock. Both are worth the very short detour. Don’t forget to climb inside Bell Rock. You’ll see why they call it Bell Rock. It’s completely hollow on the inside! It formed like that naturally.
The Department of Conservation was doing some construction work on the trail. We saw a helicopter flying in a bridge for replacement. Because of this, we experienced a delay of about 10 minutes while they cleared the trail.
Hiking from Giants Gate Falls to Sandfly Point
This day felt quite long to me. Hiking in the rain was tiring. Eventually, we reached Giants Gate Falls and a small, muddy shelter. We were close, about two thirds done with the trail. Here, we were joined by several day hikers, taking a break from the rain.
Giants Gate Falls roared into the Arthur River. After Giants Gate Falls, one last uphill climb remains. The rest of the trail winds through the trees. When you least expect it, the Sandfly Point Shelter appears.
Experiencing Sandfly Point
According to the Māori, when Milford Sound was created, it was too beautiful! Te-Hine-nui-to-po, fearing that people would stay here forever, unleashed namu or sandflies at the end of the Milford Track. Thus the name stuck: Sandfly Point.
Ignore what anyone tells you about Sandfly Point being “not that bad”. It’s pretty bad. We hid from the sand flies in the independent walker shelter. Even then, some buggers managed to find their way in.
Because it was so wet out, the inside of the shelter was muggy and stale. Nonetheless, it was dry, giving us the opportunity to change into comfier shoes and less wet clothing before boarding the boat.
Getting back to Milford Sound
We reached Sandfly Point a little bit after noon. A few folks beat us there, hoping to catch earlier boats out. They let us know that a boat to pick up day hikers would be arriving at 1PM. If there were spots available, they’d let backpackers on board.
Due to the weather delays, all of our existing boat reservations transferred with our itinerary. We booked the 2pm and 3pm boats out of Milford Sound. Luckily the 1pm boat fit my group on, since we arrived so early. Hikers behind us waited for the official 2pm boat.
If you’re ahead of schedule and make it to Sandfly Point before your scheduled departure, the boat will pick you up if there’s room.
Where were we before hiking from Dumpling Hut to Milford Sound?
To recap the trip, we started off in Te Anau Downs and hiked to Clinton Hut. After Clinton Hut, we hiked a wet and rainy 10.2 miles to Mintaro Hut, where we were rained out for one night. Our third day on the trail, my favorite day, took us up Mackinnon Pass and down to Dumpling Hut.