Milford Track’s highest point gets a slight name change

Sep 08, 2022

A handwritten note from the nineteenth century has confirmed the correct spelling of Milford Track’s highest point.


Minister for Land Information Damien O’Connor accepted in June the New Zealand Geographic Board’s recommendation to officially change the name of Mackinnon Pass to Omanui / McKinnon Pass.

Submissions on the proposed change were called for last year. It was noted that the pass had been named, albeit incorrectly, after explorer Quintin McPherson McKinnon.

Born in Scotland in 1851, McKinnon was one of the first Europeans to discover the Milford Track route in 1888. He became a tourist guide and mail-runner on the track, and died in 1892 after his boat was wrecked crossing Lake Te Anau.




The Geographic Board said it confirmed the correct spelling of McKinnon from a signature on a handwritten note and from marriage and birth certificates. The original Māori name for the pass has also been added.

“The pass was first identified and named Omanui [the great running/escape] by Ngāi Tahu, who used the Milford Track route to transport food from the fiords,” board chairperson Anselm Haanen said.

Fiordland’s Lake Mackinnon has also been corrected to Lake McKinnon. There was no known historical Māori name for the lake, Haanen said.



If you fancy exploring parts of the Milford Track and several other famous South Island trails you’ll love our five-day pack-free guided walk.

On our Fiordland Four Great Walks you’ll experience the highlights of the Milford, Routeburn, the Kepler and Hollyfordtracks without carrying a heavy pack.


Pack-Free Milford-Sound


No huts to endure, you’ll love staying at superb accommodation at Te Anau and one night on the charming Milford Mariner vessel on Milford Sound.

Indulge in local produce and New Zealand wines every night. Add to this ‘Wow” Factors such as a helicopter flight to the start of your walk on day one and you have a truly inspirational New Zealand walking holiday.



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