Grave Talbot Pass | Gulliver River

Coordinates: -44.704990, 167.969350

The Milford Track was once the only way in to Milford Sound. Explorer Bill Grave was retained by Donne of the Tourist Department to find a more direct route between Lake Wakatipu and the Sound. Donald Sutherland, long time resident of Milford Sound, told of an easy pass into the Hollyford from the Donne Valley. Sadly his hand drawn map was wrong and it was not until 1955 that Sutherland's pass was eventually climbed and found to provide the easiest route.

Bill Grave's party explored a route up the Gulliver River instead. While later examining photographs they found a promising route in a tributary they called the Esperance. In late 1909 Grave, Talbot and Lyttle returned to forge a route from the Homer Saddle to the Esperance.

Mount McPherson is named for the surveyor sent by the government to asses their route.

In 1914 a group of university students, financed by the tourist department, began to cut a track from Lake Howden on the Routeburn Track down into the Hollyford Valley and up the Hollyford River. After the Great War student parties continued the summer track cutting adventure, completing the track between Lake Howden and Milford Sound in 1924.

Both Talbot and Lyttle were lost in the war. Mount Lippe was first climbed by students in 1924 and renamed Mount Talbot.

The Grave-Talbot pass was always a very difficult route, extremely dangerous in everything but the best weather. It is now considered a foolhardy proposition even by climbers.

The historic track from the Gulliver bridge is well worth a day trip, short or long. The track is muddy, as all real Fiordland tracks are, but the forest and bird life is exceptional. For an experienced and well prepared hiker a 4 hour walk, one way, will bring you to the 59 meter De Lambert Falls. See Moir's Guide South, available from the DOC Visitor Centre in Te Anau, for a route description.

Please clean your boots with detergent provided by DOC at the trail head to prevent the spread of Didymo to this pristine area.

Explore with the Milford Sound Guide

Sunlit Foliage, Grave-Talbot Pass Track