DUSKY TRACK, NZ
NEW ZEALAND is chock-full of any number of multiday treks that would sit comfortably on a walker’s bucket list – it just boils down to how much of a (rewarding) challenge you want. Enter the Dusky Track. Deep, deep down in the wild southern section of Fiordland National Park, the Dusky is one of Australasia’s most challenging walks – and is for experienced, independent walkers only; there’s no cushy guided option here, folks, it is an epic undertaking. It is also one that pays massive dividends: you will be transported to one of the world’s most remote regions – most likely by float plane or boat – to tackle the journey from Lake Hauroko in the south, to the track’s northern finish point of Lake Manapouri. You will traverse some absolutely crazy terrain, ranging from low boggy
floodplains to high ridges and mountains, while negotiating 21 three-wire bridges across creeks and rivers, and slogging for at least one day through deep, boot-destroying mud along a rough, barely formed track. In other words, it is a real adventure!
The Dusky Track will, at a minimum, take you eight days. But make sure you pencil in another two days at least to allow for any weather delays; high rainfall means flooded track sections, which in turn means extended stopovers at huts. Then, add another two for the not-to-be-missed optional side trip to Supper Cove, on Dusky Sound. Yep, that’s 12 days. And you’ll need to be fit and strong as you will have to carry all your food, clothing, sleeping and cooking gear in your pack – there are no food drops here. Like we said, it’s an epic undertaking.
The huts are basic, but offer the required shelter. The days are long but time is forgotten as you focus on negotiating terrain, checking out incredible views and, most importantly, soaking up the enriching experience. Not all Dusky-ites tackle the side trip to Supper Cove but, the way we see it, if you’re going to be heading to a place that is so remote, and you’ve seen some of the brilliant photographs of the cove, you will put your head down and just do it.
For all this ruggedness and long distance, the Dusky has earned its place on this list for one simple reason: there’s nothing else quite like it in our part of the world. And if you ask anyone who has done it what their opinion is, the answer will probably be: “It was tough and challenging, but I’d do it again tomorrow if I could.”