After we arrived at the Milford trailhead and before we began the hike, they had us clean our boots to avoid spreading invasive organisms into the forest. This first day we had an easy hike on a level trail through the dense forest, unlike any forest we had experienced before. These were temperate rainforests, dominated by various species of beech, and we stopped to admire some very large Red Beech trees. From the trailhead, we hiked three miles to the Clinton Hut where we stayed the first night. As at every hut, the ranger stationed there gave a talk and, in the case of the Clinton Hut, took us for a nature walk, introducing us to many of the interesting plants in the forest. He talked about invasive species, a common conservation theme in New Zealand. Before the Maori people came to New Zealand, there was only one native mammal, a bat, and birds of all shapes and sizes dominated the islands. Now mammals that have been introduced, especially the possum and the stoat, a weasel, are devastating the bird population. So the Department of Conservation systematically traps and destroys these mammal species. He told us that Kiwis were commonly sighted near the hut. There was a beautiful river below the hut, the Clinton River, where we cleaned up and enjoyed the scenery, but we were soon introduced to the sandfly, a small vicious, biting fly. I only experienced these insects on the Milford Track but ended up with many bites while there.