4 current alerts for the Milford Track Read details...

13 March 2015: Tree fall in the Clinton Valley

Tree fall at the 5.5 mile peg in the Clinton Valley, there is a marked route around the tree.

11 March 2015: Bees and wasps

Bees and wasps are active, carry medication if allergic to them.

11 March 2015: Arthur Valley structure maintenance

Structure maintenance is being carried out in Arthur valley.

11 March 2015: Battle for our Birds Clinton Valley

Pest control operations took place on 21 October 2014 in the Clinton Valley (between Glade Wharf and Mackinnon Pass). Follow precautions indicated by signage until further notice. This is part of Battle for our Birds predator control programme, protecting our native wildlife from a rodent and stoat invasion. Get more information about this operation.

Introduction

Renowned as the 'finest walk in the world', follow this historic route through lush rainforest and pristine rivers. Cross Mackinnon Pass, to reach the spectacular Milford Sound/Piopiotahi.

Highlights

  • Marvel at a landscape carved by glaciers and dominated by water as you journey into the heart of Te Wahipounamu World Heritage Area.
  • Spectacular Sutherland Falls drops 580 metres from Lake Quill.
  • Spot eels and trout as you cross the Clinton River on the impressive 72 metre suspension bridge.
  • Book well in advance for this one – it's very popular.

Watch videos of the Milford Track

Find commercial operators that provide services for the Milford Track

Bookings for the period 27 October 2015 – 27 April 2016 are now open.

Track overview

53.5 km one way

Seasonal restrictions

During the Great Walks season:

  • Bookings are required for huts
  • Huts have gas cooking stoves and resident wardens

Outside the Great Walks season:

  • Bookings are not required - huts are first come, first served
  • There are no gas cooking stoves or resident wardens in huts

2014/2015 Great Walks season: 28 October 2014 - 29 April 2015

Dog access

No dogs

Brochures

Milford Track brochure (PDF, 4,479K) includes map and profile

About this track

Highlights

The Milford Track offers spectacular, awe-inspiring views and more. Enjoy video sneak previews, hear of other visitors’ amazing experiences and read more about the track’s features.

Made it! MacKinnon Pass, Milford Track. Photo copyright: Valerie and Jocelyn Corniche. DOC USE ONLY.
Made it! MacKinnon Pass, Milford Track

Spectacular scenery and wild waterfalls

The Milford Track is nestled in amongst some of the most impressive of Fiordland National Park’s landscapes, the kind you normally only get to see on your TV screen. Even in wet weather (which happens often!) the scenery is superb - with entire valley walls turning into waterfalls.

You might meet a cheeky kea on MacKinnon Pass! Photo copyright: Daniel Pietzsch. DOC USE ONLY.
You might meet a cheeky kea on MacKinnon Pass!

A sense of achievement

Imagine the exhilaration of the moment as you step onto famous MacKinnon Pass and absorb the view you’ve earned.

Great for sharing with others

This is an experience you will definitely want to share, whether with friends or family along the way, or in photos and stories later.

Enjoy stories of early human explorers in this area

The track was not always here, nor was it always so easy to walk. Read the hut information about the early explorers and as you walk, imagine their experience of this environment, without huts, tracks or light waterproof coats!

Milford Track waterfall. Photo copyright: Alex Komarovsky. DOC USE ONLY.
Milford Track waterfall

Catch a glimpse of the endangered whio/blue duck

This elegant and hardy duck is one of only a few in the world that can handle rugged mountain streams like those here in Fiordland. Listen out for the ‘pheeeeio’ sound at dawn and dusk. Read more about the whio/blue duck and its conservation.

Activities

There are many activities you can enjoy on the Milford Track as well as day walking or tramping. These include fishing, guided walks and hunting (access only).

The only way to access the Milford Track is by boat. If you don't have your own boat you can contact a DOC-approved operator to transport you, or book a scheduled boat service or packaged walking tour.

Guided Walks

In additon to three DOC huts on the Milford Track there are also three private huts operated by Ultimate Hikes who run guided multi-day trips. A number of companies also provide guided days walks on the track.   

Fishing

The Clinton river at the start of the Milford Track offers superb fly fishing for trout in its gin clear waters. Currently didymo is not found in this river, but it is in Lake Te Anau, so the didymo controls are high. You will need a clean gear certificate, cleaning kit and fishing licence.

See: Fishing in Fiordland

Hunting

Hunting areas in the Clinton and Arthur Valleys can be accessed via the Milford Track.

Remember: No firearm is to be discharged in the vicinity of huts, tracks, campsites, roadends or any other public place in a manner that endangers property or endangers, frightens or annoys members of the public. No firearm shall be discharged or loaded within 500 m of a Great Walk hut.

See: Fiordland Hunting

Description

View a description of the Milford Track during the Great Walks season, including distances, estimated walking times, and optional side trips.

What to expect

Great Walks tracks are well formed, with bridges and viewpoints. Photo copyright: Neil Hunt. DOC USE ONLY.
Great Walks tracks are well formed, with bridges and viewpoints

Great Walk tracks are of a higher standard than most other tracks so are well formed and easy to follow. The tracks are usually quite wide depending on the terrain – some fit two people walking side by side in flat areas.

The surface is usually gravel, rock or dirt, and like any track can get slippery in wet weather.

Most rivers and waterways on these tracks have sturdy bridges. Occasionally there are also small streams that cross the track but are usually easy enough to step across safely. Be aware that in wet weather rivers can rise very quickly and flood the tracks – especially on the Milford Track.

There are hill climbs where the track becomes steeper, which is all the better for views.

What to expect outside of the Great Walks season

Detailed description

The Milford Track (53.5 km) starts at Glade Wharf (at the head of Lake Te Anau, access from Te Anau Downs, 27 km from Te Anau). It finishes at Sandfly Point in Milford Sound. The track may only be walked in one direction and takes 4 days to complete, with each night spent at a pre-booked hut.

Track profile

This map shows the Milford Track from where it starts at the head of Lake Te Anau, to the end at Sandfly Point in Milford Sound. The hill profile image below gives you an idea of the steepness of the track at each stage.

Profile map of the Milford Track.

View a larger version of the Milford Track profile map (PDF, 90K)

Places to stay

You can stay in three comfortable, well-equipped DOC huts on the Milford Track - Clinton Hut, Mintaro Hut and Dumpling Hut. Eat a hot meal and enjoy a chat with your friends, family and the friendly hut warden.

Sorry, but there is no camping allowed on the Milford Track.

During the summer season (November to April) the hut facilities include:
  • Plenty of bunks with mattresses (40) in a communal sleeping layout.
  • Water supply, flushing toilets, wash basins with cold running water (but no showers).
  • Heating with fuel available, and usually solar lighting in the main area.
  • Cooking facilities with fuel, tables and seating (but no cooking utensils).
  • A friendly conservation ranger - they like to chat, they know the area well and can tell you about the environment and weather, or help out should an emergency arise.
During the winter season (May to October) the hut facilities are reduced:
  • Gas is not provided - you will need to bring your own cooking stove.
  • Flush toilets are replaced with pit toilets.
  • Running water is turned off inside the huts. Water can be obtained from the outside water tank, if this is frozen, then from the nearest water course or by melting snow.
  • There are no conservation rangers based at the huts.
  • Beds are on a first come basis only

Day 1 – Glade Wharf to Clinton Hut

Great Walker on the 'finest walk in the world'. Photo copyright: Valerie & Jocelyn Corniche. DOC USE ONLY.
Great Walker on the 'finest walk in the world'

1–1 hr 30 min, 5 km

Make your way to the wharf at Te Anau Downs (25 km from Te Anau), where the boat to the start of the track departs. After a 1 hour 15 minutes cruise across the lake, there is an easy 1 km walk to Glade House, the first overnight stop for guided walkers.

Just past Glade House is the first and largest of several suspension bridges encountered on your walk. The well graded track continues for approximately an hour, through attractive beech forest along the banks of the beautiful Clinton River.

Clinton Hut is reached just before the 3 mile marker. There are good swimming holes near the hut.

To fish the Clinton River, you require a full fishing license and clean gear certificate. These are available prior to departure at the Fiordland National Park Visitor Centre.

Clinton Hut, Milford Track. Photo copyright: Daniel Pietzsc. DOC USE ONLY.

Clinton Hut

Category: Great Walk
Facilities: 40 bunk beds, cooking, heating, lighting, mattresses
Bookings required
Side trip – Wetland Walkway

15 min return

A short side track to the wetland area is signposted 10 minutes before Clinton Hut. Guided walks with the DOC ranger may be available during the late afternoon.

Day 2 – Clinton Hut to Mintaro Hut

Wonderful water on the Milford Track. Photo copyright: Archit Patel. DOC USE ONLY.
Wonderful water on the Milford Track

6 hr, 16.5 km

It’s a gradual climb from Clinton Hut as the track follows the Clinton River to its source, Lake Mintaro, at the base of Mackinnon Pass. After an hour you arrive at Clinton Forks where there is a view of the north branch of the Clinton River. A toilet is also located here.

Between the 5 and 6 mile markers you cross a large open area formed by a landslide, which occurred in 1982. This created a small lake, known as ‘Dead Lake’ because of the dead beech trees seen here. Between here and Hirere Falls (about 20 minutes) the track can be prone to flooding during heavy rain. There is a toilet just before the Hirere Falls guided walk shelter.

Soon you’ll get your first view of the Mackinnon Pass and the impressive Pompolona ice field. Cross the open ‘prairie’ area and climb a small hill to the Bus Stop shelter just before Marlene’s Creek. This shelter can be used during heavy rain if the bridge over Marlene’s Creek is impassable. There is a toilet located after the creek.

After passing the turnoff to the Pompolona guided walks hut, there is a short climb before descending to a swingbridge. It is approximately 1 hour 30 minutes from here to Mintaro Hut. You will notice the vegetation starting to change, reflecting the higher altitude and heavier rainfall.

Mintaro Hut kitchen, Milford Track.

Mintaro Hut

Category: Great Walk
Facilities: 40 bunk beds, cooking, heating, lighting, mattresses
Bookings required

Day 3 – Mintaro Hut to Dumpling Hut

Milford Track weaving under a fuchsia tree. Photo copyright: Louis Vest. DOC USE ONLY.
Milford Track weaving under a fuchsia tree

6–7 hr, 14 km

From Mintaro Hut there is a well-graded, zigzag climb of about 2 hours to the Mackinnon Memorial. On the way there are excellent views of Lake Mintaro and the Clinton Valley. A takes a further 20 minutes to reach the Pass Day Shelter from the memorial, crossing the highest point on the track at 1,154 m. The shelter is supplied with a gas-cooker during summer and has the toilet with the best view in Fiordland!

The 8 km walk from the Mackinnon Pass to Dumpling Hut provides spectacular views, dropping 970 m steadily over rocky, uneven terrain. The track crosses beneath Mt Balloon and the Jervois Glacier to the Moraine Creek Bridge. During times of extreme weather conditions, walkers may be directed down a steep emergency track, which will require extra care and time.

Shortly after the Moraine Creek Bridge, the track passes the 18 mile marker. It then follows a boardwalk and staircase beside the Roaring Burn River, with its numerous waterfalls. The Robert Allen Shelter and a toilet are located near Dudleigh Falls and the 19 mile marker.

A set of zigzags leads to the bottom of the pass and Quintin Shelter, where there is also a toilet. Here a side track leads to the magnificent Sutherland Falls. There is an excellent view of Sutherland Falls about 20 minutes past the junction, along the main track to Dumpling Hut. Just before reaching the hut, there is a raised boardwalk – a great place to see glow worms after dark.

Dumpling Hut, Milford Track.

Dumpling Hut

Category: Great Walk
Facilities: 40 bunk beds, cooking, heating, lighting, mattresses
Bookings required
Side trip – Sutherland Falls

1 hr 30 min return

The side trip to Sutherland Falls is a definite highlight that is highly recommended and well worth the effort. Leave your pack at the shelter (but take your raincoat as the power of the falls generates a lot of spray) and follow the track to the falls. The impressive falls drop 580 m (904 feet) in three leaps from Lake Quill.

Day 4 – Dumpling Hut to Sandfly Point

5 hr 30 min – 6 hr, 18 km

You should aim to leave Dumpling Hut between 8 am and 9 am, to connect with the boats departing at either 2 pm or 3 pm from Sandfly Point for Milford Sound/Piopiotahi.

From Dumpling Hut the track follows the Arthur River to the historic Boatshed, where there is a toilet. After crossing the swingbridge (a good place to see trout and eels) it is about 20 minutes to beautiful MacKay Falls and Bell Rock.

There are two more swingbridges further on at Poseidon Creek, near the 28 mile post. Admire the rock cuttings alongside the Arthur River and Lake Ada, which were blasted and hand cut by labourers when the track was first constructed.

Just after the 30 mile marker, are Giant Gate Falls, with a shelter and toilet located here. From the falls, the final 1 hour 30 minutes walk leads to Sandfly Point and the end of the Milford Track. There can be flooding through this section of track during heavy rain, which may cause delays. The final 2 miles of smooth, wide track was built by a prison labour gang in the late 19th century.

Fees and bookings

Find out about fees for staying at huts on the Milford Track and how to make reservations in the summer season. The track takes 4 days to walk. Camping is not permitted.

Milford Track fees
 

Summer season
28 October 2014 to 29 April 2015

Winter season
01 May 2015 to 26 October 2015
Adult
(18+ years)
Youth/Child*
(5-17 years)
Adult
(18+ years)
Youth/Child*
(5-17 years)
Hut $162.00 (all 3 huts) Free $15.00 Free
Discounts

A 10% discount is available to members, staff and instructors of the following organisations, who also hold a valid 12 month Backcountry Hut Pass: NZ Mountain Safety Council; NZ Federated Mountain Clubs; NZ Deer Stalkers Association; NZ Land Search and Rescue (LandSAR); Scouts New Zealand; GirlGuiding NZ.

Discounts are not available online. To receive the discount we need to sight your membership card and Backcountry Hut Pass, so please visit a DOC visitor centre in person. If you get a discount you won't be charged a booking fee.

Transport fees

You can book transport services (buses and boats) at the same time as booking huts, or you can book huts only now - and add transport to your booking later (to do this, contact the Fiordland National Park Visitor Centre directly).

See details of the fees for transport services and time options.

Bookings for 2015/2016 summer season now open

Book the Milford Track online

What to book

In the summer season you need to book all three huts on the track. You must start from the Lake Te Anau end and stay in each hut consecutively.

In the winter season you don't need to book huts. However, you must buy (backcountry) hut tickets before your walk. You can buy these via any DOC visitor centre (but not online). During the winter season there are reduced facilities and additional safety hazards to consider. See Winter tramping.

How to book

Follow this step-by-step process to guide you through booking the Milford Track.

  1. Decide the date you want to start walking

  2. Check availability of huts. If there is no space in each of the huts from the date you want to start, consider:
    • Starting your walk on a different date
    • Doing a guided walk

  3. Check the availability of transport services on your desired dates. You can choose to:
    • Book transport between Te Anau and the start/end of the track at the same time as booking huts
    • Book transport directly with transport operators. (Note: although the transport off the track is privately owned it must be booked via DOC, either via the DOC online booking system or at a DOC Visitor Centre.)

  4. Book huts.
  5. Book transport between Te Anau and start/end of the track (if you haven’t already done this at the same time as booking huts). Find transport operators for the Milford Track (Destination Fiordland website)

Terms and conditions

Read the Booking Terms and Conditions for general information, age ranges, prices, discounts, penalty rates and the alterations and cancellations policies. Bookings not meeting the terms and conditions will be treated as invalid and cancelled.

Booking Great Walks on behalf of others

Guided groups

To operate a commercial activity in an area managed by the Department of Conservation, you will need to apply for a concession (an official permit), in addition to any bookings you would need to make. Read more about concessions 

Booking on behalf of others

To make multiple bookings for facilities/services on behalf of customers, you must obtain permission or an agent agreement from the Department of Conservation. To do this, email: bookings@doc.govt.nz  

Getting there

Trampers board 'Anita Bay' at the end of the Milford Track. Photo copyright Neil Hunt.
Boat transport 'Anita Bay' at end of the
Milford Track

Travel to and from the Milford Track usually requires road transport and boat access at both ends of the track.

You can only walk the Milford Track in one direction, and the below transport options are for the summer Great Walks season only.

The track starts at Glade Wharf (at the head of Lake Te Anau, accessed by twice daily scheduled 1.5 hour boat service from Te Anau Downs). Te Anau Downs is 27km from Te Anau on the road to Milford Sound and has a car parking area if you wish to leave your vehicle.
There are bus services which run daily scheduled services from Te Anau to meet the boat at Te Anau Downs.

For experienced trampers, there is tramping access to the start of the track from the Eglinton Valley via the Dore Pass Route.

The Milford Track finishes at Sandfly Point (a 15min boat trip from Milford Sound village).
At the end of your adventure, there are daily bus services from Milford Sound to:

  • The Divide - start of Routeburn Track (38km - 45mins) 
  • Te Anau Downs - (93km - 2 hours) 
  • Te Anau (120km - 2.5 hours)
  • Queenstown - (297km - 5 hours)

You will be given options to book the above connecting transport online, at the same time as you book your hut tickets.


Related links

Know before you go

Be prepared – take the right gear

As with any outdoor experience, the decisions you make and your safety are your responsibility.

Take the right gear for your Great Walk tramp.
Take the right gear for your Great Walk tramp

  • Check conditions – check with the DOC Visitor Centre for track conditions and weather before your trip.
  • Take the right gear for all conditions and enough food. All walkers should take a first aid kit. Get a list of what to take.
  • If walking in winter we recommend you also take a mountain radio and/or personal locator beacon. Also see Winter tramping on Milford Track.
  • Your mobile is not useful as there is no coverage for the Milford and Routeburn Tracks and very little on the Kepler Track (limited to high areas).

Tell someone your plans

We recommend you tell someone your plans and leave a date to raise the alarm if you haven't returned. For how to do this, see the Outdoors Intentions process – AdventureSmart website.

Tracks are sometimes closed for safety reasons

Sometimes the Great Walk tracks need to be closed for safety reasons (eg avalanche danger, flooding or high winds). If walkers are not able to proceed, options are available. These may include a refund (if walk not started yet), changing direction on the track or transfer across hazard areas. DOC staff will keep you informed of all issues and options.

Hazards to look out for on Great Walks

Being lost
The tracks are very well marked but if you become lost you should stop, find shelter and stay calm. Put on extra clothing and assist rescuers should you hear them searching for you.

Being injured or ill
If you are injured or become ill, use your first aid kit immediately and contact DOC staff if needed. In case of emergency an evacuation may be possible.

Hypothermia (too cold)
During cold, wet and windy conditions, hypothermia (drop in core body temperature) can become a serious problem. From initial stages to unconsciousness can take as little as 30 minutes.

  • Wear warm and weatherproof gear and eat regularly during your walk.
  • These symptoms may indicate initial stages of hypothermia: shivering, clumsy, confused, have slurred speech, may deny they have a problem.
  • To treat: immediately make or find shelter, get the person into dry, warm clothing, put into sleeping bag, give warm, sweet drinks, monitor and seek immediate medical help.

Heat exhaustion
Heat exhaustion is usually caused by warm temperatures and not drinking enough water.

  • Carry and drink water regularly throughout your walk.
  • A person in the early stages of heat exhaustion may show weakness, dizziness, nausea or vomiting, loss of appetite and sweating. 
  • To help, give them water and find a cool place to rest.

Fires
Take care to put ashes from hut fire places in the metal drums to avoid huts burning down. At campsites please only use the designated areas. No open fires are permitted in Fiordland National Park.

Flooding on tracks
During and after heavy rain, flooding of tracks is common on all Great Walks. Stream and river levels will drop rapidly once rain stops. If you are caught between flooded streams seek higher ground and wait for water levels to drop.

Risk areas may include:

  • Kepler Track – Iris Burn Valley.
  • Milford Track –- between Hirere and Bus Stop in the Clinton Valley; and between Boat Shed and Poseidon Creek in the Arthur Valley.
  • Routeburn Track – Routeburn Valley.

Strong winds
Whenever you are walking in alpine areas or exposed areas on any of the tracks, such as over passes, saddles and along mountain ridges, you could be caught in strong and/or gusty winds (eg over 80km/hour winds). Take care to dress warmly as wind-chill danger is worse at these times.

Avalanches
Snow avalanches are common on all tracks, especially between late August and early November. Danger is higher during or directly after snow and rain. Avalanche and snow hazard can change rapidly from low to high within a 24 hour period.

  • Follow all advice given by staff.
  • Start zones of avalanche paths often cannot be seen from the track.
  • In danger areas, do not walk below other walkers.

Risk areas may include:

  • Kepler Track – 9 avalanche paths cross the track between Luxmore Hut and Hanging Valley shelter.
  • Milford Track – 56 avalanche paths cross the track between 6 Mile in the Clinton Valley and Quintin Hut in the Arthur Valley.
  • Routeburn Track – 32 avalanche paths cross the track between Routeburn Falls hut and the Earland Falls.

Slips
Routeburn Track – the area halfway between Routeburn Flats and Routeburn Falls Huts is prone to slips after heavy rain. Care is required when traversing this area. If in doubt, do not proceed.

Walking the Milford Track outside of the Great Walks season

In the Great Walks In the Great Walks off-season (early May to late October) facilities are greatly reduced (no gas for cooking, limited water supply, no rangers or emergency radio facilities) and there are additional safety hazards to consider:

  • The winter environment in Fiordland is very cold and wet, with ice, snow and short daylight hours. Avalanche-prone bridges across some major watercourses are removed. DOC does not manage hazards such as flooding or avalanche.

Walking the track at this time should only be attempted by fit, experienced and well-equipped people. For more information see winter tramping.

Follow the Outdoor safety code - Mountain Safety Council

What to take

First aid kit.
First Aid Kit - essential equipment

The following gear is essential for all walkers on the Great Walks Tracks.

Most equipment is available for hire or purchase in Te Anau and Queenstown. Having the correct food, clothing and equipment is vital. Check for current conditions and weather warnings before departure. Be prepared for at least one wet day on your trip.

Food

Food is not available for purchase on the track. Food should be lightweight, fast cooking and high in energy value. For example:

  • breakfast: cereal, firm bread, honey or other spreads
  • lunch: cracker biscuits, cheese, salami, margarine, jam/jelly, fruit
  • dinner: instant soup, pasta or rice, dried vegetables or fruit, cheese or dehydrated (freeze dry) meals.

You will also need water, snacks, biscuits, muesli bars, tea or coffee, powdered fruit drink and emergency food in case of any delays on the track.

Clothing and equipment

You will need at least one set of clothes to walk in and another dry set to change into at night. It is not possible to dry clothes in the huts. Cotton clothing such as jeans, tshirts and sweatshirts are not suitable.

  • Boots (should be comfortable and well broken in)
  • Socks (wool or polypropylene)
  • Shorts (quick dry material)
  • Shirt (wool or polypropylene)
  • Under layers, top and bottom (wool or polypropylene)
  • Mid-layers (wool or polar fleece)
  • Raincoat (waterproof, windproof with hood)
  • Over trousers (wind and water proof)
  • Warm hat and gloves, sunhat and sunglasses
  • Extra socks, underwear, shirt or lightweight jersey
  • Personal equipment
  • Pack with large waterproof/plastic liner
  • Sleeping bag (good quality down or hollofil)
  • Matches or lighter in waterproof container
  • Torch/flashlight and spare batteries
  • Eating and cooking utensils/equipment (knife, fork, spoon, plate, cup, pot, pan or billy and cleaning kit)
  • Toiletries (soap, toothpaste, small towel). Do not wash or use soap in lakes or streams.
  • First aid kit (insect repellent, sunscreen, blister kits, pain relief, assorted bandages)
  • Survival kit (survival blanket, whistle, paper, pencil, high energy snack food)
  • Drink bottle, 1 - 2 litre capacity (you need to drink regularly during the day)
  • Optional extras: camera, lightweight shoes for in hut, ear plugs for communal bunkrooms (you will be sharing huts with up to 50 trampers)
  • Campers also require a tent, ground sheet and gas cooker (camping not permitted on the Milford Track) 

If walking outside of the Great Walks season (May to October) we recommend you also take a mountain radio and/or personal locator beacon. Also see:


Related links

Winter tramping

Thick snow blankets the Mackinnon Pass, Milford Track.
Thick snow blankets the Mackinnon Pass, Milford Track

During the winter season (May to October) the Milford Track remains open, but with reduced facilities. Weather, track and avalanche conditions need to be carefully considered. Make sure you are fully prepared before you go.

The winter season

Depending on weather and track conditions, the Milford Track remains open through the winter season, from late April to late October. For dates and costs see Fees for Milford Track.

  • The hut facilities and track conditions in the winter are very different to the summer, with avalanche risk on all three tracks. 
  • If you are considering walking during this time, read the notes below and be absolutely confident that you have the skills, fitness and equipment necessary to be safe on your trip.
  • Check with the DOC Visitor Centre before your trip (contacts on right) for conditions.
  • Day or shorter trip options: if a through trip (over alpine areas) is not advisable you could consider walking part of the track, staying overnight and returning the same way. For other winter options ask at the DOC Visitor Centre.

A winter crossing of alpine sections of the Milford Track should only be attempted by experienced, well equipped people.

Winter conditions and risks

The following conditions and risks can be present on the Milford Track in the winter and spring seasons:

  • Cold, very wet and windy weather is common.
  • Snow and ice are common in high areas. Deep snow often hides the track markers.
  • During winter the days are shorter and light is low due to mountain ridges.
  • In winter many bridges are removed to avoid damage; the rivers are large, swift and icy cold.
  • Avalanches are common and dangerous. They happen daily in some conditions and their starting zones often cannot be seen from the track. The risk is higher during or directly after snow and rain – this can change quickly over a 24 hour period.
  • The Milford Track is mainly complex avalanche terrain with over 57 avalanche paths, which may bring avalanche debris to the valley floor. For more information see: Be avalanche alert in Fiordland.

Take responsibility for your own safety - be prepared

Winter tramping can be a real adventure, but just as with any adventure - the decisions you make and your safety are your responsibility. Below are some minimum recommendations for winter tramping on the Great Walks in Fiordland.

Find out more in Know before you go.

  • Check conditions: check with the DOC Visitor Centre for conditions and weather before your trip (contacts on right). See Fiordland alerts.
  • Always leave trip intentions and fill in hut books as you walk.
  • Carry a mountain radio and/or personal locator beacon in case of emergency.
  • Ensure all in your party are suitably fit and experienced in winter tramping, including navigation skills, river crossings, alpine conditions, safety judgement.
  • Be equipped: carry the right supplies and gear for alpine and winter conditions (see Equip yourself well).

Huts in winter

There is no hut booking available in winter however you must buy hut tickets (or hut pass) before your trip. See Fees on Milford Track.

  • Hut rangers are not present in winter, although DOC rangers do occasional checks on facilities (and hut tickets).
  • In winter the following are not provided: fuel for cooking, fuel for heating, lighting, radios, running water.
  • A pit toilet is provided in winter. Please do not put rubbish in sinks or toilets. Please carry out all rubbish.
  • Fire for heating: please put ashes into the metal drums provided – to avoid risk of huts burning down. Replace all wood used.

Track information

Many of the bridges are removed over winter to avoid damage from avalanches.
You must be competent at crossing large, swift, icy rivers.

The track over Mackinnon Pass is not marked and is often covered in deep snow.
You need to have navigation and alpine skills to traverse this section of track.

Transport

All transport must be arranged before starting the track.

There is not always a daily service in winter. You must discuss an alternate option with transport operators before you begin your walk.

What to take

You need to be totally self-sufficient when tramping in winter. Having the correct food clothing and equipment is essential:

  • Food - allow for at least two extra days
  • Warm clothing
  • Warm sleeping bag
  • Survival blanket
  • Stove and gas for cooking
  • Lighter or matches
  • Ice axe
  • Crampons
  • Toilet paper
  • Torch
  • Sunglasses
  • Sunscreen
  • First aid kit
  • Personal locator beacon
  • Mountain radio (optional)

Include the following avalanche safety/rescue equipment:

  • Avalanche beacon
  • Snow shovel
  • Avalanche probe

Related links

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Contacts

Te Rua-o-te-moko / Fiordland National Park Visitor Centre
Phone:      +64 3 249 7924
Address:   Fiordland National Park
Visitor Centre
Lakefront Drive
Te Anau 9600
Email:   fiordlandvc@doc.govt.nz
Full office details
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