Trip Tips column: Where can you find summer in January? |

Trip Tips column: Where can you find summer in January?

Question: Where can we go in January to find summer, ocean, adventure, great hiking, great locals and good food and wine?

Answer: Where else but New Zealand?

Among the many incredible things to do in New Zealand, like world class golf, bicycle trips, hiking, camping, touring in a motor home, visiting vineyards, great cuisine and getting to know the native Maori traditions, the Milford Track tops the list. (I’ll provide details on the other offerings in later columns.)

Hiking through the heart of New Zealand’s wild fiord country, the Milford Track has justifiably been called “The finest walk in the world.”

Located in Fiordland National Park, in southwest New Zealand’s World Heritage Area, it has a reputation as the Eighth Wonder of the World.

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Taking A Hike

The trek is about 33 miles long, must be completed in four days and three nights and is rated strenuous. Since camping is not allowed, you can chose either hut accommodations (similar to our own 10th Mountain Division huts). They are equipped with bunk beds and cooking facilities but you have to back pack in your sleeping bag, food and personal items.

Or you can opt for my kind of trekking. A guided hike, staying in lodges with hot showers, private rooms and cooked to order meals and even a glass of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. You carry your personal items, and the guides provide as much or as little assistance, according to your preference. But their local knowledge would greatly enhance the experience and make your trek much more enjoyable, at least for the soft-core hiker.

Wonder With Views

Starting at the beautiful glacial lake, Te Anau, surrounded by 1,000-foot mountains, in the next few days you will hike over the strenuous McKinnon Pass, then to the tallest waterfall in New Zealand. You can cool off at Bell Rock, which has a 12-foot pool at its center that was created by the falls.

At every turn in the trail, there is another wonder with views of waterfalls, glacial cirques of mountains, lakes and the wonderfully temperate rain forest filled with abundant bird life, flora and fauna … even the infamous Kiwi. And at last, the beautiful Milford Sound, with its’ sheer cliffs surrounding the crystal clear fiord.

After the trek you cannot miss booking an overnight cruise on the spectacular Milford Sound, a once-in-a-lifetime experience. While on board you will cruise the full length of this spectacular fiord to the Tasman Sea, hoping to spot seals and pods of dolphins. You can take a kayak out on the Sound imagining how it would be a Maori native doing the same in years past.

Spending the night in Harrison Cove, you can relax in your private cabin, enjoy cocktails and dinner, then wake up to a hearty breakfast before sailing back to Milford Sound wharf and your hotel room in Te Anau.

Stay tuned for more on New Zealand next week.

Gail Molloy is the owner of Overland Express Travel. Email or call 970-926-9206.

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