Mackinnon Pass on the Milford Track
Image: Crystal Brindle | DOC

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


The Minister of Conservation has announced that the Milford Track will be partially reopened from 26 February.

Date:  19 February 2020 Source:  Office of the Minister of Conservation

The popular Great Walk has been closed since 3 February after an extreme weather event caused damage, rockfall and slips across northern Fiordland and parts of Southland and Otago.

“It’s great to announce that a shortened version of the Milford Track - to be called the Southern Milford-Mackinnon Experience - will be available to walkers from 26 February. The Rees Track and Greenstone Caples track are also reopened today,” said Eugenie Sage.

“Safety for Department of Conservation (DOC) staff and visitors has always been the number one priority. DOC staff have worked exceptionally hard over the past fortnight to assess the track, huts and other structures.

“Extreme weather events like this storm will become more frequent in future due to climate change-induced heavy rainfall. There is a big job ahead for DOC and others in repairing the facilities that give visitors access to these special areas in Fiordland, and in making them more resilient in the face of a changing climate.

“I’m proud of the work DOC is doing to get people back out into nature as soon as safely possible. Repairs are continuing on other tracks damaged by the storm, and these will be reopened when safe to do so.

“Now that part of the Milford Track is open, DOC is turning its attention to the Routeburn Track and looking at options for allowing limited public access there.

“While I know people will be eager to see the entire walk reopened, the 7km section of the Milford Track to the north requires significant work and won’t be reopened this season. An option which allows access to part of the walk is a welcome alternative.

“People who were originally booked for the Milford Track will be given priority for the new Southern Milford-Mackinnon Experience.

“DOC is working really hard to get all the tracks back up and running safely but in the meantime there are still many beautiful areas and tracks for people to enjoy” said Eugenie Sage.

The Southern Milford-Mackinnon Experience is a day shorter than the original Milford Great Walk so people will have an opportunity to ‘Stay an Extra Day in Fiordland’ to experience some of the other activities in this beautiful part of the world.

Background information

Detail on tracks

The Rees Track – a popular backcountry track for experienced walkers – opened today from Muddy Creek to Dart Hut. They will also be able to walk the Dart Valley as far as Daley’s Flat but will not be able to exit via Chinaman’s Bluff due to a damaged bridge and will need to return to exit the valley.

The Greenstone Caples track - people should be prepared to camp with limited availability at huts.

Both the Greenstone/Caples and Rees tracks are backcountry tracks that require a higher level of experience than a Great Walk.

The focus will now shift to looking at options for a partial reopening of the Routeburn Track, which suffered extensive damage particularly between the Divide and Lake MacKenzie Hut 

The Southern Milford-Mackinnon Experience

This is a three-day two-night return walk from Glade Wharf at Lake Te Anau, to Mackinnon Pass

The Southern Milford-Mackinnon Experience is a shortened version of the Milford Track comprised of a 3 day, 2 night walk. A bus and ferry will get you from Te Anau Downs to the start of the walk at Glade Wharf.

The alternative Milford Track route is more challenging and will require more effort than the usual route, because two of the days will be longer than a usual Great Walks experience. For their own safety, walkers are asked to assess whether the estimated walking times and distances of this walk are still suitable for their level of experience and fitness.

  • Day one: Glade Wharf to Clinton Hut, spend the night at Clinton Hut: 1 hr 30 mins, 5 km
  • Day two: Clinton Hut to Mintaro Hut: 6 hrs. 16.5 km (option to walk to Mackinnon Pass, 3 hrs return)
  • Day three: Mintaro Hut to Glade Wharf: 7 hrs, 21 km

(Note: Walkers will need to ensure they are at the wharf to meet the ferry at 4.30 pm)

The north section of the track, from Mackinnon Pass to Sandfly Point, remains closed to the public and is unsafe to access.

The Southern Milford-Mackinnon Experience is a day shorter than the original Milford Great Walk so you will have an opportunity to stay an extra day in Fiordland to experience some of the other activities in this beautiful part of the world. 

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