Fiordlands National Park is NZ’s largest national park consisting of over one million hectares (100 million acres) of wilderness! The rainforest-draped mountains and sounds full of playful dolphins and seals are visited by nearly half a million people each year despite the always threatening rain clouds and pestering black flies (minor details compared to the beauty of the place)! The must-see attraction in The Fiordlands is Milford Sound; however, before we moseyed on to the famous site, we opted for some of the less popular attractions – they were just as beautiful, if not more beautiful because of their obscurity and because they were absolutely FREE!
Our first venture took us on a five-hour (round trip) hike to Marian Lake. This lake, and all of it’s glacial-hanging-lake-glory, provided the perfect reflection of Fiordlands beauty! Our pictures are really worth a thousand words – the only thing you can’t hear are the glacial waterfalls spewing into the crystal blue waters – amazing! With such a long day of hiking already in the books, we spent the rest of the evening at the historical Gunn’s Hollyford Camp relaxing and taking refuge from the infamous black flies!
The next morning we set out for Humboldt Falls – a whopping 270 meters (886 feet) of cascading Fiordlands water! We made the easy 10-minute stroll to the viewing platform, but seeking just a little more adventure, and sensing that there was some WOLOing to be had, we headed back down the track and up the riverbed to find the base of the giant. Granted, it did take some serious WOLOtude to rock-hop and scramble and wade through the water, but what we found was 100% worth it – this is our favorite waterfall in all of NZ and we had it all to ourselves!
After our Humboldt adventure, we continued along Milford Road until we found the Gertrude Valley Track. We decided to walk a shorter trek (roughly one hour, one-way) of the longer Gertrude Saddle Route, which led us along the valley floor to the base of the Gertrude headwall. We loved every second of this awe-inspiring, uncrowded, easy route through some of the Fiordlands most scenic countryside; it was the perfect way to end a perfect Fiordlands day!
Next stop: Milford Sound
Song lyrics: Snow Patrol “Chasing Cars”
– Go. Change your state of mind.