Running the Milford Track
Are you thinking about running the Milford Track? Planning can be a logistical challenge but luckily, we are your stress-free track transport specialists to help you plan and book all the transport you need to tick off this epic trail running experience.
The Milford Track is an incredible experience for all however you choose to see it and Fiordland Outdoors are stoked to help you and your trail buddies achieve this ultimate adventure goal.
About the Milford Track
The Milford Track is one of three great walks here in Fiordland National Park. Many opt to fill their hiking packs and head out on a multi-day adventure discovering the finest walk in the world over three days. There are however a select group of humans who take on the challenge of running this epic hiking trail in a day, yes, you read that right the Milford track can be completed in one day.
The finest walk in the world is also the finest run in the world and is one of the few trails in new Zealand with no vehicle access, no cattle, farmers, or houses. Just pure Fiordland goodness.
The Milford Track was historically a Maori Greenstone trail and has been used for hundreds of years. The first use for tourism was back in 1888. The Milford Track was established as an overland route between Lake Te Anau and Milford Sound. Quintin McKinnon set off to find the route we now walk today down into Milford Sound and, in 1888 he discovered the mountain pass that is now named the Mackinnon Pass.
The landscape you see throughout your Milford Track adventure is a result of glaciation over the past two million years. Expect to see incredible mountains, valleys, and wildlife as you make your way through Fiordland National Park.
Our guide to running the Milford Track
Quick facts and stats
From the experts, this track is one of the hardest to complete. There are only two options to tick this one off. In the summer season (great walk season) hikers complete the trail south to north over four days and three nights, staying in the DOC huts on the way. The other option available to some is running the 53.5km track in one day.
The track for runners is reserved for experienced trail runners only. The track is difficult, steep, and long and should only be attempted by those who have trail running expertise. There are many side trails to explore and hidden waterfalls to discover and advanced runners may have the energy and time to do these at their discretion. If you would like to add the Sutherland Falls side trip to your schedule allow one hour return. It is a hilly 4.5km venture off the track and you will need time for photos.
Distance – 53.50km
Total Ascent – 1070m
Total Descent – 1270m
Start and end point – Sandfly point, Milford Sound / Glade Wharf, Te Anau Downs
Terrain – Native bush, rocky, open tussocks, grassland, open ridges, and mountain tops.
Experience level – Intermediate to experienced.
Time to run – 12:00 (Slow), 10:00 (Moderate), 6:00 (Fast)
You will find the Milford Track in Fiordland National Park, Southland. The nearest town is Te Anau.
What should you expect from running the Milford Track?
You can expect an incredible alpine route that will provide you and your team a fantastic day out. A memorable adventure to say the least. Don’t underestimate the grandeur and difficulty of this track and we highly recommend you take more gear than you hope to need. It is compulsory that you take appropriate gear as the weather can change in the mountains quickly, especially in Fiordland National Park. The Mackinnon Pass is a definite highlight on this route and depending on the season you may witness an avalanche cascading through the valley below, a reminder of the dynamic nature in alpine environments. Be sure to check conditions for your run accordingly and don’t forget your essential items.
A basic packing list is below;
- Two thermal long-sleeved tops
- Thermal long johns
- Wind and waterproof jacket
- Survival blanket
- Personal first aid kit
- PLB or Inreach
- Food, snacks, water
How the transport works
After years of transporting runners on the Milford Track, generally we have found the transport works best starting Sandfly Point, Milford Sound and ending at Glade Wharf, Te Anau. An early start at Milford Sound means you can be on the track running by 7.15am and coming off at Glade Wharf somewhere between 3pm and 6pm.
This service is only available in the Great Walks hiking season, late October – end April.
We have seen a wide range of running times, from 8 hours right through to 18 hours. The average time is 10 hours.
Sandfly Point Drop Off
Water Taxi transport available to Sandfly Point as follows;
- Service available from 7am, is light dependent and at skippers’ discretion (ie. 1st March sunrise is 7.24am. Time would be agreed at time of booking)
- Service is weather dependant
- $55 per person, minimum of 4 fares due to early start for skipper
Glade Wharf Pick Up
Our boat will collect you from Glade Wharf, generally between 3pm and 6pm, and travel down the Lake for approximately 1 hour to Te Anau Downs. You are welcome to send a bag on our boat up to Glade Wharf with a change of clothes, drinks, and refreshments. This could be quite welcome after a 10-12 hours run on a hot day.
- Arrival at Glade Wharf by 4pm - $95 p/adult
- After 4pm, the next pick-up time is 6pm (as we need to return with day walkers) and the charter rate will be minimum $600 for up to 5 people then $95 p/adult
- Late arrival fee - if you have chosen a 6pm pick up time and do not arrive by then, there is $150 p/hour late arrival fee. i.e. if you arrive at 8pm, 2 hours past the pick-up time there will be an additional $300 fee (not per person).
You have a few options for your vehicle – you can either drive or bus into Milford Sound the night before and stay at www.milfordlodge.com, or you can drive in that morning and have your vehicle relocated back to Te Anau Downs at $299 per vehicle. We can book and organise this for you and is by far the easiest solution.
Dore Pass/Camping on the Milford Track
Our company policy for those looking to run the Milford Track in a day is for both water taxis, at each end of the track, to be booked on the same day. This is to ensure every runner comes off the track safely and that camping is not undertaken on the Milford Track which is not permitted by the Department of Conservation. The only exception to this policy is those that are planning on exiting and camping on Dore Pass. In this case, as runners are generally unable to run with camping gear, we can drop camping gear to Glade Wharf for you to collect for $20 per piece. Please be aware that if any runners arrive for their departure at Sandfly Point with packs bigger than normal for running the track and we have reason to believe you are planning on camping on the Milford Track, please be advised that we will not offer transport as arranged and no refund will be given. This company policy is in place to respect our special place and the Department of Conservation rules.
To ensure your safety we ask that:
- All runners carry a personal locator beacon or if possible, a GPS tracker or sat phone
- Leave an emergency contact name and phone number with us prior to departure
- Nominate an emergency response time for us to initiate if required – this will start with contacting all the DOC huts to see if you have passed through (it is a good idea to check in with the ranger at each hut if you can)
We are experts in all things Fiordland and transport. If you need a bus, car relocation, or extra information to get you safely to and from the Milford Track contact our team today.
Get in touch to organise your Milford Track Transport with the Fiordland Transport experts.