Most people walk the Milford Track for the breathtaking scenery – the dramatic mountain passes, lush rainforests and cascading waterfalls.
Neville Falconer couldn’t see any of it. But using his other senses, he was still able to experience what has been dubbed the finest walk in the world.
“Hearing the beautiful birdsong and waterfalls, feeling the spray … all of that was just amazing.”
But he and his wife, Jenny, have been able to keep having adventures with the help of guide dog Sophie, whom Falconer has had since he completely lost his eyesight.
The Tauranga-based couple embarked on the Milford Track a year ago, booking a guide walk.
They had prepared by going for walks on longer routes with different surfaces. However, as a result of the major storm in Fiordland in February 2020.
“The day over Mackinnon Pass, we were getting across terrain where the rain had washed away a lot of the material you’d walk on around the rocks. It was just bare rocks. That made it very slow.”
The 900-metre descent was even more difficult, and Falconer ended up rolling both ankles and losing six toenails.
Meanwhile, Sophie was intrigued by the weka along the track, although as a guide dog distraction wasn’t an issue.