Milford track
Image: Shellie Evans | ©

Archived content: This media release was accurate on the date of publication. 


Newly released time-lapse footage from one of New Zealand’s most popular Great Walks shows how fine weather can quickly morph into thick cloud, rain, hail or snow and why recreationists need to be prepared.

Date:  16 April 2019

The two clips, taken at this time of the year on the Milford Track, highlight how rapidly the weather can change here and in other alpine environments across New Zealand.

DOC has released the footage to remind keen day walkers, backcountry trampers and hunters to check the weather forecast and prepare themselves before heading outdoors.

DOC’s Visitor Risk Principal Advisor Don Bogie says if unprepared, people can rapidly find themselves in trouble.

“When venturing above the bushline, if cloud comes in visibility is quickly lost, disorientating even the most experienced trampers,” he warns.

“Things get worse faster at this time of the year. It’s colder, there are fewer daylight hours and fewer people on the track to help if things do take a turn for the worse.”

MetService Head of Weather Communications, Lisa Murray recommends always checking the latest forecast.

“MetService has mountain forecasts for twelve of our most used national nark regions, regional forecasts, radar and spot forecast information available 24/7,” says Lisa Murray.

“It’s also important to check for any Severe Weather Warnings and Watches. These give valuable information about hazardous weather such as the intensity and timing of severe wind, heavy rain or heavy snow.”

The New Zealand Mountain Safety Council (MSC) says their insights from ‘A Walk In The Park’ show a spike in tramping incidents for Easter and Anzac weekend with trampers twice as likely to be injured or involved in a search and rescue incident.

“We urge all those going outdoors to make themselves familiar with the outdoor safety code, and importantly, tell someone your plans so you can be more easily found if the unforeseen happens,” says Chief Executive Mike Daisley.

MSC’s research shows April is the most common month for trampers and day walkers requiring rescue due to not being prepared for the weather, not having a waterproof jacket, not having sufficient warm clothing, or not having a torch.

“Our weather tends to push in from the Tasman Sea or blow up from the Antarctic and this makes it volatile and at times unpredictable,” explains DOC’s Don Bogie.

“It’s up to individuals to make sound judgements about the level of risk they are prepared for when venturing into the great outdoors.

“Make sure you check the DOC website for any safety warnings about the track you’re planning to tackle before heading out and call into our visitor centres,” reminds Don.

“Once you’re out there, stick together and, importantly, be prepared to turn back.”

DOC’s Great Walks season comes to a close at the end of the month. Outside the Great Walks season (1 May 2019 – 24 October 2019), facilities on the southern Great Walks and Tongariro Northern Circuit are greatly reduced, there is avalanche risk and a high level of experience is required.

The 2019/2020 season of Great Walks will begins in October.

Top tips before hitting the track

  • Make sure you are prepared
  • Bring the right gear
  • Make sure someone knows where you are going and when you will be returning
  • Be prepared to turn back
  • Stick together
  • Check all relevant information on the conditions before your trip

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