The late arrival of snow to Fiordland this winter has not softened its blow.
Snow has been constantly falling in the Fiordland mountains since last Wednesday, as a series of westerly fronts have made their presence known. 200km/h winds were recorded on high level weather stations and avalanche thresholds have been reached.
"Now is not the time to be heading into the park, based on the weather we’ve had and the forecast over the next few days” says DOC Operations Ranger Hamish Angus.
A number of avalanches have already occurred and DOC is expecting to see windfall and tree damage along a number of the low-altitude valley tracks.
“For anyone planning a trip in the backcountry, this could make navigation difficult and greatly increase travel times. Once the weather settles down we will start to get a handle on what damage has occurred, and where.”
People need to be aware of potential hazards on popular walks such as the Routeburn and Milford Tracks. Sections of these walks below the bush line are affected by avalanche paths that can reach the valley floor. These avalanches begin in areas high above the track and can occur without warning.
Anyone planning on heading into the backcountry at this time of year is strongly urged to check the latest conditions at a DOC visitor centre before leaving.