The Mackinnon Pass is a prominent feature along the world-renowned Milford Track, a stunning hiking trail located in New Zealand’s Fiordland National Park, leading from Lake Te Anau to Milford Sound. Situated at an elevation of 1,154 meters (3,786 feet), Mackinnon Pass is a significant highlight and a major achievement for hikers on the track.
Named after Quintin Mackinnon, the explorer who pioneered the track, Mackinnon Pass offers breathtaking panoramic views and a sense of accomplishment to those who reach its summit. The pass serves as a dividing point between the Clinton and Arthur Valleys and provides an impressive vantage point to admire the surrounding alpine landscapes.
The journey to Mackinnon Pass involves a steep ascent from the Clinton Valley, typically starting at the Clinton Hut. Hikers navigate through dense beech forests and ascend a series of well-constructed switchbacks known as the “Zigzag.” The track then opens up to reveal vast mountain vistas as you approach the pass.
At the top of Mackinnon Pass, hikers are rewarded with sweeping views of towering peaks, deep valleys, and glacially-carved landscapes. The iconic Sutherland Falls, one of the highest waterfalls in New Zealand, can also be seen from the pass, adding to the natural splendor.
Mackinnon Pass is also home to the historic and picturesque Mackinnon Pass Shelter, a stone structure built in 1888 that offers a refuge for hikers to rest and take in the magnificent scenery. This shelter provides a glimpse into the history of the track and the early explorers who ventured through this remote wilderness.
After descending from Mackinnon Pass, the Milford Track continues through stunning alpine meadows, past pristine rivers, and eventually reaches its endpoint at Sandfly Point on the shores of Milford Sound.
Hiking to Mackinnon Pass is a challenging but rewarding experience, showcasing the pristine beauty and rugged grandeur of New Zealand’s Fiordland. It’s essential to be well-prepared, allowing enough time and being mindful of the weather conditions, as the track can be subject to sudden changes.