DUSKY TRACK, NZ

Australian Geographic Outdoor - - World’s Greatest Walks -

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.”

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