In 1908 Blanche Baughan wrote an article for the London Spectator that she called “A Notable Walk.” As Baughan later explained, for some reason the editor decided to change the title to “The Finest Walk in the World.” And for over 100 years the moniker has stuck. It may seem an extravagant claim, but Baughan herself waxed positively poetic, (she was actually a poet), in her descriptions. She claimed, “this track anyone possessing feet to walk with, eyes to see with, and a love for Nature at her loneliest and fairest, could scarce do better than essay,” concluding, “From the variety, the beauty and the scale of the scenes through which it passes, it must certainly be accounted one of the most glorious wonders of the world.”
Whether it qualifies as the world’s finest walk, there is little doubt it qualifies as a “glorious wonder.” Located in Fiordland National Park, in the south island of New Zealand, it is part of the Southwest New Zealand World Heritage Area, a place of exceptional beauty that is considered one of the great wilderness regions of the southern hemisphere. Over the course of its relatively short distance of 54 km (33.5 mi.) walkers will encounter an incredible diversity, traversing through lush beech forests, climbing to subalpine scrub and tussocks at the top of Mackinnon Pass to end at the cascading waterfalls and sheer rocky precipices of Milford Sound.
Photo of beech forest by Ultimate Hikes, New Zealand
Photo of Mackinnon Pass by New Zealand Department of Conservation