Situated in Fiordland National Park, Southland, New Zealand is the 53.5 km Milford Track- the “finest walk in the world.” That bold claim can be found on most New Zealand tourism websites.
- Advertised around the globe as ‘The Finest Walk in the World’… – TripAdvisor.com
- Experience ‘the finest walk in the world’ – www.doc.govt.nz/milfordtrack
- anyone with a reasonable level of fitness can do the “finest walk in the world” – ActiveAdventures.com
And if that is not proof enough, you can purchase online:
- Finest Hike in the World: New Zealand’s Milford Track VHS – Amazon.com
If someone can actually sell a VHS of this trek, it has got to be good!
This “finest” claim originates from Blanche Edith Baughan, a British journalist and poet, who apparently in 1908 wrote an article in the London Spector titled “The Finest Walk in the World.” It was re-published in book form in 1909. I have not been able to find one, although The National Library of New Zealand claims to have a 66 page 4th edition, published in 1926. If you happen to find and read it, you can be the first ever to review it on GoogleBooks.
The evening before the trip we attend a required orientation meeting, where we gather up our backpacks, liners, and luggage tags. In reality we are gathering up our courage as we check out our fellow hikers. “He looks out of shape, surely I can keep up with him. She looks about seventy but wow, look at her leg muscles. I better introduce myself now because I am never gonna see her on the trail.”
We return to pack what for me is the lightest backpack I have ever carried on a trek – no sleeping bag, no tent, no stove, and no food. Maybe this really is going to be the finest hike in the world.