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Friday, November 1, 2013

Ultimate Hikes opens for the Great Walks season and celebrates 125 years of the Milford Track

Queenstown-based Ultimate Hikes launches its 2013-14 season this week with the first guided walks on the Milford and Routeburn Tracks departing on Friday 1st November.

This year’s season opening on the Milford Track is extra special as it also marks the 125th anniversary of the discovery of Mackinnon Pass, allowing land access from Te Anau to Milford Sound.

The world famous Milford Track
Another highlight of the up-coming season is the re-opening of the Sutherland Falls Track, which leads to the 580m Sutherland Falls, believed to be the tallest waterfall in New Zealand.

Following significant rock fall onto the access track in October 2012, extensive work on a new track to the falls means it now includes two new swing bridges, views along the river and an opportunity to enjoy the waterfall up close and personal.

Ultimate Hikes operates guided walks on the Milford, Routeburn and Greenstone Tracks, traversing the Fiordland and Mt Aspiring National Parks and enabling guests to experience the magic and wonder of this World Heritage Area in comfort.

The guided walks include stays in private lodges, offering hot showers, three course meals and warm beds, surrounded by some of the world’s most spectacular scenery.

Hikers on the picturesque MackinnonUltimate Hikes General Manager Noel Saxon said the team is looking forward to a busy summer after months of preparation.

“It’s shaping up to be a great season. While there are still spaces available, we highly recommend people book early, especially if they have specific dates in mind as we’re already full for some of our trips,” said Mr Saxon.

“It’s fantastic to see the Sutherland Falls track is once again open, enabling guests to view New Zealand’s largest waterfall- it’s a spectacular sight.”

The falls were discovered by Donald Sutherland in 1880, and Quintin Mackinnon and Earnest Mitchell were instructed to find a way overland from Te Anau to meet the track he had cut from Milford Sound.  The Pass was traversed by Mackinnon and Mitchell on 17 October 1888, and named after Quintin Mackinnon, who was also the first guide on the Milford Track. 

We have upgraded the amenities over the years since we have been operating the guided walk, but the experience itself remains timeless – as it was 125 years ago,” Noel said.
“It’s a unique wilderness experience that’s second to none.” The thunderous Sutherland Falls on the Milford Track (photo credit Jamie Holyoak)
Ultimate Hikes has earned an international reputation for providing excellent facilities including the quality of accommodation, exceptional guides and lodge hosts.
Earlier this year the Milford Track was named the “Number One Walk In The World” by Lonely Planet Great Adventures author and travel writer Ben Fogle and is consistently voted one of the world’s best walks.

The Ultimate Hikes walking season runs from 1 November to 13th April 2014. All walkers are accompanied by expert guides and the walk include all accommodation on track, transport to/from the track (ex-Queenstown or Te Anau), meals, snacks, backpacks and rain jackets.    

Bookings for the 2013/14 walking season can be made online at www.ultimatehikes.co.nz or through the reservations centre by calling 03 4501940 or emailing info@ultimatehikes.co.nz.
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