On this 5-7 hour day hike, you will see one of the most spectacular waterfalls near Milford Sound on the South Island.
- 174m high waterfall
- Native bush in the Fiordland National Park
- Spectacular panoramic views on Key Summit
- Tramping huts
- Connects well to Routeburn track
When you think of the Milford Sound in New Zealand’s South Island, you automatically recall guide books telling you to jump on a boat and cruise by the incredible cascading waterfalls fuelled by melting snow. My favourite waterfall though, is one you can’t cruise to, but one you take a gorgeous and relatively easy hike through rainforest to find.
Park yourself up at The Divide car park (the start/end of the Routeburn Track), and start heading uphill on the path. You will come to a point where you can either head up towards Key Summit, or down towards Lake Howden hut. It’s up to you which order you do it however we chose the waterfall first which is via the hut.
It only takes about an hour to the hut and it’s optional to sleep over or continue climbing around the side of mountains for another hour on an easy-to-follow track until you reach the Earland Falls. This impressive, roaring beast brings to life something of a fairy tale, showering into a clear green pool of melted snow. As inviting as the water appeared after a 2-hour sweaty hike, the shockingly cold water kept our clothes on.
Back on the track following the path the way we came via the hut and up the hill to the crossroads, heading left this time to tackle the Key Summit. One last ascension is well worth it for panoramic views of snow-capped mountains and the alpine Lake Marian. After taking it all in, start the easy descent back to the car park. This total walk (defying the signs recommended 7 hours) only took us 5 hours with a snack break!
Have I sold you on it yet? If you make it all the way to the Milford Sound then you’re crazy not to check out these majestic forest falls and an alpine nature walk at the Key Summit. If you have more time, then check out the full Routeburn track to Glenorchy which takes 3-4 days and is well worth it as one of the most spectacular walks in NZ.
- running shoes
- jumper/jacket (it gets cold at the top)
- insect repellent
How to get there
The Divide car park is about 85 km along the Milford Road from Te Anau towards the MilfordSound (1.5 hours drive).
- Swimming (If you’re ridiculously game)
- bird watching
Distance covered / Elevation Gain
Key Summit- 3.4 km return via same track / 918m
Earland Falls- 7.5 km return via same track / 984m