Off the Beaten Track to... George Sound
The Fiordland National Park in the southwest corner of New Zealand's South Island is the largest national park in the country and forms a major part of the Te Wahipounamu World Heritage site. Located within the park is Lake Te Anau – the second largest lake in the country (after Lake Taupo). Three large inland fiords meet the lake on its west side, including Middle Fiord. It is from this fiord that intrepid, fit and adventurous travellers wanting a real (and remote) hiking challenge can explore George Sound (a lesser known Sound than the famous and most visited Milford, Doubtful and Dusky Sounds). If you are not looking for true off the beaten track adventure, then Milford Sound would be a better option for you.
George Sound is accessible by boat, float plane and helicopter – several boat operators take groups from the track end on the Middle Fiord and provide boat transport on Lake Hankinson. Once there, hikers (or trampers as they are more commonly called in New Zealand) can take between 2-3 days to complete the George Sound track.
The track is classified as a route by the Department of Conservation and this is what hikers can expect:
- Challenging multi-day tramping/hiking
- A track that is unformed and natural, rough, muddy or very steep
- Suitable for people with above average fitness. High level backcountry (remote areas) skills and experience, including navigation and survival skills are required
- Complete self sufficiency required
- Track has markers, poles or rock cairns. Expect unbridged stream and river crossings
- Sturdy tramping/hiking boots required.
For the longest section of the hike, a tent may be required. For safety purposes, you should let someone know where you are going and when you expect to return as well as completing an intentions form at the Fiordland National Park Visitor Centre in Te Anau before you depart and sign the hut books. For the George Sound track, you should also carry a mountain radio or emergency locator beacon and topographical maps B41/C41 George Sound and C42 Mount Irene.
Highlights of George Sound
- Challenging hiking following deer trails off-track with natural hazards including sandflies, flooding and poor weather.
- Fiordland is dramatic (as well as very wet) country with lush rainforests, fiords and valleys as well as peaks such as the Kepler and Murchison mountains.
- Wildlife and birdlife includes dolphins, seals, deer, kakapo (the only flightless parrot in the world) and kiwi.
To help plan your Fiordland adventure, choose from the main categories below: