A Brief History of the Milford Track

Coordinates: -44.932904, 167.930441

Quintin Mackinnon and Ernest Mitchell of Manapouri were employed by the Chief Surveyor of Otago to cut a track up the Clinton Valley at the head of Lake Te Anau. They set up camp on 7 September 1888 and topped Mackinnon pass 1 month and 9 days later, continuing down the other side they reached Sutherland's Beech Hut near the present Quintin Hut in the Arthur Valley. They supplemented their rations along the way with kakapo, blue duck and occasional kiwi, hampered by wet weather. On their way down the Arthur Valley Mackinnon and Mitchell met up with a surveying party on the way up.

The government first used prisoners to develop the track from the Milford end but they didn't get much done and a work gang of 13 men under Edwin Price was eventually employed in their stead.

Mackinnon subsequently became the first guide on the Milford Track. In 1892 Quintin Mackinnon was lost on lake Te Anau, only his boat was recovered by a search party at Te Anau Downs. Donald and Jack Ross succeeded Mackinnon as government track guides.

The first unguided freedom walkers from the Otago Tramping Club crossed in 1964 after which huts were built for independent walkers.


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