The track is commonly known as "The Finest Walk in the World", a phrase often attributed to New Zealand poet Blanche Baughan. The article which was eventually published by the London Spectator in England, was originally titled A Notable Walk but was changed by an editor to The Finest Walk in the World and the tag line stuck.
The native Māori people used the Milford Track for gathering and transporting valuable greenstone. There are many Māori legends about the track and the native species found in it.
Donald Sutherland and John Mackay were the first European explorers to see what are now known as Mackay Falls and Sutherland Falls, in 1880.
Quintin McKinnon was the trekker and entrepreneur that first widely disseminated information about the Milford Track to the general public. He began by guiding tours himself and expanded with a marketing campaign from there. Many parts of the Milford Track are named for Mackinnon, including Mackinnon Pass, the tallest point of the Track. According to the official New Zealand Department of Conservation literature, Mackinnon also impressed with his "ability at cooking pompolonas, a type of scone from which one of the guided trip huts takes its name."