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Day hikes at Milford Road, Fiordland, New Zealand – Part 2 Gertrude Sattle

Day hikes at Milford Road, Fiordland, New Zealand – Part 2 Gertrude Sattle

My trip to Gertrude Sattle was unforgettable. I went alone, it took me 7 hours return and I lost the path two times. After returning to the car park which is located on Milford Road near Homer tunnel I was proud and tired.
To start your hike to Gertrude Sattle just follow the dry river bed to the end of the valley. Try to be orientated towards the river. Sometimes there is a post to mark the way but two paths in different directions. I chose the wrong one which was a fatal error. The first section of the track is quite easy and flat – well, if you choose the right way. I went across the hills off the beaten track to the end of the valley and had a lot of trouble with boulders to climb, small rivers to cross and knee deep bush land 🙂

Now, finally arrived at the end of the valley standing at the foot of that huge rocky mountain I realized that this is the hard part of the trip. The work and almost all elevation gain starts here. I felt wasted already and my legs told me to return.

I didn’t, of course.

From here it’s a steady climb up to the sattle. Slippery huge rocks, boulders and even a part with rope will make your way. Even if it’s hard the view and small surprises in the form of waterfalls, lakes and cliffs will reward your work. Remember to bring enough water and food. There is a small lake which is a great picnic place.

Once you arrived at Gertrude Sattle the view will be overwhelming. If it’s clear you can see Milford Sound and the beautiful scenery of Fiordland.

Be careful on your way back. Since there are no marks I crossed the waterfall to early and landed up at a huge cliff where I needed to climb down.

Good to know: I went there late March; the weather was cloudy and dry. Probably that is the most important point if you plan the trip: make sure the weather is dry and bring enough water and food. Online you will find a lot of hints that tell you only to do this hike is you are physical fit. Thats no joke – please be aware that the way is really steep, stony and not marked. Only small stone towers will give you a suggestion where to go.

Conclusion: The hike to Gertrude Sattle is a great experience for everyone who is fit and loves to feel tiny in between huge rock walls. For those who don’t want to go the whole way just follow the river bed to the end of the valley. The way offers spectacular views as you can see on the photo below.

part 1 Lake Marian <<< go to >>> part 3 Key Summit

Day hikes at Milford Road, Fiordland, New Zealand – Part 1 Lake Marian

Day hikes at Milford Road, Fiordland, New Zealand – Part 1 Lake Marian

The hike to Lake Marian was one of the highlights during my 6-week stay in Fiordland. The lake which is located in a hanging valley about 17 miles before you reach Milford Sound is one of the jewels of New Zealand’s South Island.

What to bring: since the hike takes 1-3 hours one way (depends on your physical fitness) you definitely need enough drinking water. Some snacks like nuts or fruits are great to refill your energy while the track leads uphill all the time through wild and untouched jungle. Also bring your hiking boots. I met a French couple with chucks – believe me that’s no fun. The path is muddy, slippery and steep. (Many thanks to the New Zealand Department of Conservation for preparing and marking all the paths.)
As in most parts of the South Island you will be welcomed on the track by hundreds of mosquitos and sandflies. Bring your repellent or/and wear long clothes. These little shitty beasts love your sweaty skin. The last important thing you should bring is your swim gear. Once you finished the climb up the valley you will be rewarded with a stunning green shimmering, crystal clear, icy cold lake in between the beautiful mountains of Fjordland Nationalpark. There are picture perfect picnic places (just take a seat on one of the huge stones that are sitting along the lake shore) or have a refreshing swim in the clear water.

Lake Marian with beautifil reflections.

Good to know: Toilets are located at the car park and at the lake. Make sure you return to the car park before the darkness is coming – it’s absolutely not recommendable to go the path without daylight. If it’s snowy bring a hiking stick and check the avalanche forecast. The path is situated under huge cliffs and slopes. Be aware of rock falling down.

Waterfall on your way to Lake Marian

Conclusion: the 1-3 hour hike to Lake Marian is of the best in New Zealand. Bring enough water and your hiking boots. About 20 minutes after the car park you will reach a waterfall. Don’t assume as most of the tourists that this is the highlight of this place. Keep walking to the lake – it’s worth it!

go to >>> part 2 Gertrude Sattle >>> part 3 Key Summit