3 current alerts for the Routeburn Track Read details...

9 April 2015: Bees and wasps

Bees and wasps are active in this area. Carry medication if you are allergic.

3 April 2015: Routeburn Flats Hut closure

Routeburn Flats Hut will be closed for maintenance from 7 to 17 May 2015.

2 April 2015: Routeburn Classic Adventure Run

Routeburn Classic Adventure Run is on Saturday 25 April 2015, beginning at the Divide on the Milford Road at 8 am and finishing at the Routeburn Shelter by 5 pm. Up to 350 runners plus marshalls will be on the track during this day.

Introduction

The ultimate alpine adventure, weaving through meadows, alpine gardens and ice-carved valleys below the peaks of the Southern Alps/Kā Tiritiri o te Moana.

Highlights

  • Hike the Key Summit to view a stunning alpine wetland
  • Spot the endangered mōhua (yellowhead) bird
  • A short trip from bustling Queenstown

Watch videos of the Routeburn Track

Find commercial operators that provide services for the Routeburn Track

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

Track overview

32 km one way

Walking and tramping

2-4 days Intermediate: Great Walk/Easier tramping track

Seasonal restrictions

During the Great Walks season:

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

Outside the Great Walks season:

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

Read about tramping the Routeburn Track in winter

 

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

Dog access

No dogs

Brochures

Routeburn Track brochure (PDF, 4,638K) includes map and profile

About this track

Highlights

Beautiful mountain views on the Routeburn Track. Photo copyright: Dave Quested. DOC USE ONLY.
Beautiful mountain views on the Routeburn Track

The Routeburn Track offers spectacular mountain landscape views and an outdoor adventure in nature. Enjoy video sneak previews, hear of other visitors’ amazing experiences and read more about the track’s features.

Beautiful views

Ice-carved valleys clad with beech forest, pristine blue alpine lakes, rugged mountains iced with snow. You will feel on top of the world as you walk over the Harris Saddle and along the ridge overlooking the Hollyford Valley and Fiordland mountains.

Great for day trips - and for families

The Routeburn Track is excellent for day trips as well as multi-day tramps, which is great for families or those with less time. There are day trip options at each track end (see options on Track Description page).

The Routeburn Track is great for sharing with friends. Photo copyright: Dave Quested. DOC USE ONLY.
The Routeburn Track is great for sharing with friends

Great for sharing with friends

Share this incredible trip with your friends and you’ll be re-living memories of your adventure for years to come. It's a wonderful way to deepen friendships, try something new or just enjoy a life experience.

An exciting outdoors adventure within your reach

You can walk this track in either direction and it’s easy to arrange transport for each track end, or make a loop trip with the Greenstone or Caples tracks. For those new to tramping the track is well-formed with gradual climbs, so it is very do-able. In the evenings stay at our comfortable Great Walk huts or campsites, where there’s a friendly hut ranger (in peak season).

Catch a glimpse of an endangered bird - the mohua/yellowhead

This cute, active little songster is hard to see as it’s often in flocks up high in the treetops. Listen out for the distinctive chirpy song as you’re walking through the first 3 km of the Routeburn Track (Glenorchy end) and behind Routeburn Flats Hut. Read more about DOC’s work to protect the mohua/yellowhead

Conservation Blog

 'Great Walking' the Routeburn Track Ranger Chris Hankin writes about his tramp with the Air New Zealand Great Walkers over the Routeburn Track.

Activities

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

Child/family friendly activities

Walking in the outdoors is a fun, healthly activity for the whole family. Although the alpine sections of the Routeburn Track are not recommended for children a great overnight alternative is to walk in and stay at either Lake Howden Hut or Routeburn Flats Hut.

Read a blog: My night at Lake Howden Hut by 9 year old Olivia Norris

Remember - it’s free for children (5-17 years) to stay in huts and campsites on Great Walk tracks. Children under 15 years must be with an adult.

Hunting

Hunting areas in the Greenstone and Routeburn Valleys can be accessed via the Routeburn 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 metres of a Great Walk hut.

See: Fiordland Hunting

Routeburn Classic

An adventure running race held in late April each year on the Routeburn Track (32 km).

See: Good Times Events

Guided Walks

In addition to four DOC huts on the Milford Track there are also two private huts operated by Ultimate Hikes who run guided multi-day trips. A number of companies also provide guided days walks on the track including up to Key Summit.

Guided canyoning

A DOC-approved operator provides guided day trips to experience the amazing canyons of the Routeburn Valley.

See: Guides and commercial tour providers

Description

The Routeburn Track above Lake Harris. Photo: Keri Moyle.
A walker enjoys the view from the Routeburn Track above Lake Harris

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

What to expect

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.

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

Routeburn Track offers extensive views over the Hollyford Valley. Photo: Keri Moyle (signsoflife.co.nz).
The Routeburn Track offers extensive views over the Hollyford Valley

Detailed description

The Routeburn Track has two starting and finishing points and may be walked in either direction. One track end is at the Routeburn Shelter (near Glenorchy and 68 km from Queenstown). The other is at The Divide (on the Milford Road, 85 km from Te Anau).

If walking the whole track, most walkers take 3 days/2 nights to complete the track, usually staying at Lake Mackenzie and Routeburn Falls huts. The trip can be extended by also staying at the other huts and made into a circuit by linking with the Greenstone and Caples Tracks, which starts and finishes near the Routeburn Shelter.

Places to stay

ou can stay in four comfortable, well-equipped huts (Routeburn Flats Hut, Routeburn Falls Hut, Lake Mackenzie Hut and Lake Howden Hut) and two campsites (Routeburn Flats and Lake Mackenzie).

Camping outside the designated campsites or staying overnight in the shelters is not permitted.

Hut facilities over summer season (November to April)
  • Plenty of bunks with mattresses (between 20 to 50) 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.
Reduced hut facilities over winter season (May to October)
  • 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
Campsite facilities

Great Walk campsites are in scenic locations, and usually near huts. You cannot use the hut facilities, but at each campsite you will find:

  • An open cooking shelter.
  • Water supply tap.
  • Clean toilet.
  • A friendly hut warden (from the nearby hut during summer season) who may visit to chat and check campsite tickets.

Toilets are available at huts, campsites and shelters.

A day walk on the Routeburn Track is a perfect family outing. Photo: Keri Moyle (signsoflife.co.nz).
A family enjoys a peaceful day walk though beech forest

Day walks

The Routeburn Track also offers fantastic day walk opportunities for families or those with less time.

Earland Falls Track (6 hours return)
Key Summit Track (3 hours return)
Lake Howden Track (3 hours return)

Routeburn Shelter to Routeburn Flats Hut

1.5–2 hr, 6.5 km

From the car park at the Routeburn shelter, cross a swingbridge to the well formed track that meanders through beautiful beech forest. Once past Sugarloaf Stream, the track is a remnant of the old bridle path built in the 1870s, and climbs directly to Bridal Veil Stream. It then sidles above the Routeburn Gorge.

A second swingbridge takes you back across the Route Burn to open grassed flats. At the marked junction, turn right to Routeburn Flats Hut and camping area, or left to continue to Routeburn Falls Hut.

Routeburn Flats Hut.

Routeburn Flats Hut

Category: Great Walk
Facilities: 20 bunk beds, cooking, heating, lighting, mattresses
Bookings required
Routeburn Flats campsite.

Routeburn Flats Campsite

Category: Great Walk
Facilities: 15 non-powered/tent sites, shelter for cooking, water from tap
Bookings required
Side Trip – North branch of the Route Burn

4–5 hours return

From the Routeburn Flats Hut, cross the unbridged Route Burn and follow the north branch of the river through beech forest and tussock clearings. Good views of Mount Somnus, North Col and Mount Nereus can be found at the head of the valley.

Routeburn Flats Hut to Routeburn Falls Hut

1–1.5 hr, 2.3 km

This is a steady climb through beech forest crossing two Swing bridges. A recent slip allows excellent views of the valley below. Care should be taken crossing this slip, especially after heavy rain. The Emily Creek Bridge is considered to be the halfway mark to Routeburn Falls Hut.

Routeburn Falls Hut, Routeburn Track. Photo copyright: Daniel Pietzsch. DOC USE ONLY.

Routeburn Falls Hut

Category: Great Walk
Facilities: 48 bunk beds, cooking, heating, lighting, mattresses
Bookings required

Routeburn Falls Hut to Lake Mackenzie Hut

4.5–6 hr, 11.3 km

The track climbs steadily from Routeburn Falls Hut to the outlet of the river at Lake Harris. Stop occasionally and look behind you for great views of the Routeburn Valley.

A sidle through moraine and above Lake Harris leads to the high point of the track at Harris Saddle/Tarahaka Whakatipu (1,255 m). (Allow 1 hour 30 minutes to 2 hours 30 minutes for the climb to the saddle.) Keep to the track as vegetation in this sub-alpine area is very fragile. Harris Saddle is located on the boundary between Mount Aspiring National Park and Fiordland National Park. There is a day shelter and toilet located here.

Note: The following sub-alpine section of track is exposed and can be hazardous in adverse weather conditions – being prepared and having the right equipment is vital. Allow 3 to 4 hours to Lake Mackenzie Hut from the Harris Saddle.

From Harris Saddle, the track descends and traverses the exposed Hollyford Valley face – there are excellent views down to the valley below.

Lake Mackenzie is visible below at the end of the traverse, and a series of zigzags descend through bush to Lake Mackenzie Hut. The campsites are located 10 minutes from the hut.

Lake Mackenzie Hut, Routeburn Track. Photo copyright: Kathrin Marks. DOC USE ONLY.

Lake Mackenzie Hut

Category: Great Walk
Facilities: 50 bunk beds, cooking, heating, lighting, mattresses
Bookings required
Lake Mackenzie campsite sign.

Lake Mackenzie Campsite

Category: Great Walk
Facilities: 9 non-powered/tent sites, shelter for cooking, water from tap
Bookings required
Side Trip – Conical Hill

A short, steep climb from the Harris Saddle up Conical Hill gives superb views of the Hollyford Valley through to Lake McKerrow and beyond to Martins Bay and the Tasman Sea. Allow 1 to 2 hours for the return trip. Be aware that snow and ice can sometimes make this trip hazardous early and late into the Great Walks season.

Mackenzie Hut to Howden Hut

3–4 hr, 8.6 km

The track leaves Mackenzie Hut, crossing a small flat before climbing steeply to the bush line. It then gradually descends past the ‘Orchard’, an open grassy area dotted with ribbon wood trees. A toilet is located just past the Orchard. The track continues on to the magnificent Earland Falls (174 m). An emergency bridge is situated downstream, should the falls be in flood.

The track continues its gradual descent to Lake Howden Hut, situated at the junction of the Routeburn and Greenstone–Caples tracks.

Lake Howden Hut, Routeburn Track.  Photo copyright: Susan Adams. DOC USE ONLY.

Lake Howden Hut

Category: Great Walk
Facilities: 28 bunk beds, cooking, heating, lighting, mattresses
Bookings required

Lake Howden Hut to The Divide

1–1.5 hr, 3.4 km

The well graded track climbs steadily for about 15 minutes to the Key Summit Track turn-off. From the Key Summit turn-off, the gradual downhill walk is through silver beech forest to The Divide on the Milford Highway. At 532 m, The Divide is the lowest crossing of the Southern Alps in New Zealand. A shelter, car park and toilets are located here.

Side Trip – Key Summit

1–1.5 hour return

This popular walk climbs above the bush line to an alpine wetland and, in good weather, offers magnificent views of the Darran Mountains and the Hollyford Valley.

Stay on the track and boardwalks, as this is a fragile vegetation area.

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 outside of the Great Walks season we recommend you also take a mountain radio and/or personal locator beacon. Also see Winter tramping on the Routeburn 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 only use the designated areas. No open fires are permitted in Fiordland National Park.

Flooding
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 Routeburn Track outside of the Great Walks season

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 on the Routeburn Track.

Follow the Outdoor safety code - Mountain Safety Council

Fees and bookings

Find out about fees for the huts and campsites on the Routeburn Track and how to make reservations during the summer season.

Routeburn 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 $54.00 Free  $15.00  Free
Campsite $18.00 Free  $5.00  Free

Discounts

A 10% discount is available to members, staff and instructors of the following organisations, who also hold a valid 12 months 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 and apply to the summer season rates only. 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.

Bookings for the 2015/2016 summer season now open

Book the Routeburn Track online

What to book

In the summer season you need to book huts and/or campsites on the track.

In the winter season you don't need to book. However, you must buy (backcountry) hut and campsite 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.

You can choose to book transport to and from entry/exit points for the track - the walk is one-way with the track ends approximately 350 km apart. See Getting there - Routeburn Track.

How to book

Follow this step-by-step process to guide you through booking the Routeburn Track:

  1. Decide what direction you want to walk the track in - from Routeburn Shelter near Queenstown or the Divide Shelter near Te Anau. Note, shuttles and vehicle relocations are available between both ends.

  2. For the direction you want to walk in, decide what huts or campsites you want to stay at. Consider:
  3. Decide the date you want to stay at each hut/campsite.
    • Summer season: maximum stay is 2 consecutive nights at huts and campsites
    • Winter season: maximum stay is 3 consecutive nights in huts, 5 consecutive nights at campsites

  4. Check availability of huts and campsites for space in each hut/campsite on the date you want to stay. If there is no space in one of the huts/campsites you want to stay at, consider:
    • Starting your walk on a different date
    • Re-arranging your walk to use a different combination of huts/campsites

  5. Check the availability of transport services on your desired date.

  6. Book huts/campsites. If you're booking campsites you'll need to know the number of people in your group as well as the number of tent sites required. Booking is required in the summer season for all ages. 
  7. Optional: Book transport to/from the start/end of the track with a transport operator.

Terms and conditions

Read the Booking Terms and Conditions for general information, age ranges, fprices, 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

Routeburn Track location map.
Routeburn Track location map

One track end is at the Routeburn Shelter (near Glenorchy and 68 km from Queenstown). The other is at The Divide Shelter (on the Milford Road, 85 km from Te Anau).

It is possible to make a circuit by combining the Routeburn Track with either the Caples or Greenstone Tracks.

Transport operators

Tracknet
The Divide to/ from: Te Anau, The Divide, Milford Sound, Queenstown
Phone: +64 3 249 7777
Freephone: 0800 483 262
Email: res@tracknet.net
Website: www.tracknet.net

Kiwi Discovery
The Divide to/ from: Te Anau, The Divide, Milford Sound, Queenstown 
Phone: +64 3 442 7340
Freephone: 0800 505 504
Email: track@kiwidiscovery.com
Website: www.kiwidiscovery.com

Routeburn Shelter.
Routeburn Shelter
Trips & Tramps
The Divide to/ from: Te Anau, The Divide
From: Te Anau,
Phone: +64 3 249 7081
Freephone: 0800 305 807
Email: info@tripsandtramps.com
Website: www.tripsandtramps.com

Buckley Transport
The Divide to/ from: Queenstown
Routeburn Shelter to/from: Queenstown
Phone: +64 3 442 8215
Email: info@buckleytransport.co.nz
Website: www.buckleytransport.co.nz

Info & Track / Backpacker Express
Routeburn Shelter to/from: Queenstown, Glenorchy
Phone: +64 3 442 9708
Email: adventure@infotrack.co.nz
Website: www.infotrack.co.nz

Glenorchy Journeys  
Routeburn Shelter to/from: Queenstown, Glenorchy
Phone: +64 3 409 0800  
Free Phone: 0800 49 56 87 (within NZ)
Email: office@glenorchyjourneys.co.nz 
Website: www.glenorchyjourneys.co.nz

Kinloch Lodge
Routeburn Shelter to Greenstone & Caples Track
Phone: +64 3 442 4900
Email: info@kinlochlodge.co.nz
Website: www.kinlochlodge.co.nz

Car relocation

Track Hopper
Phone: + 64 21 18777 32
Email: info@trackhopper.co.nz
Website: www.trackhopper.co.nz

Easyhike
Phone: +64 27 370 7019
Free Phone: 0800 327 944 (within NZ)
Email: info@easyhike.co.nz
Website: www.easyhike.co.nz

Secure parking

Safer Parking Te Anau
Phone: +64 3 249 7198
Email: saferparkingteanau@msn.com
Website: www.saferparking.co.nz


Related links

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

Routeburn Track above Lake Harris.
Crossing the snow on the terrace above Lake Harris

During the winter season (May to October) the Routeburn 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 Routeburn Track remains open through the winter season, from late April to late October. For dates and costs see Fees for Routeburn Track.

  • The hut facilities and track conditions in the winter are very different to the summer, with more risks to manage.
  • 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 Routeburn Track should only be attempted by experienced, well equipped people.

Winter conditions and risks

The following conditions and risks can be present 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 Routeburn Track has a lot of challenging and complex avalanche terrain with over 32 avalanche paths that have the potential to cross the track. See Be avalanche alert in the Wakatipu & Wanaka

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 Routeburn Track.

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 RouteburnTrack.

  • Hut wardens 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.
  • Camping is available at designated campsites. Camping outside of these areas is only permitted at least 500m away from the tracks (but this is not recommended for most due to safety).

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. See Transport services in Fiordland for options.

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 prob


Related links

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
Whakatipu-wai-Māori / Queenstown Visitor Centre
Phone:      +64 3 442 7935
Address:   50 Stanley Street
Queenstown
9300
Email:   queenstownvc@doc.govt.nz
Full office details
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