Enjoy fabulous Fiordland safely - read about outdoor gear you will need, leaving trip intentions, driving on unsealed roads, use of fire, weather conditions and track updates, hazardous conditions and more.
As with any outdoor experience, the decisions you make and your safety are your responsibility.
Seek local knowledge, plan the route you will take and the amount of time you can reasonably expect it to take. Choose the right trip to match your party’s experience and skill level. Take the right maps and know how to use them.
We recommend you tell someone about your plans and leave a date to raise the alarm if you haven't returned.
- View Fiordland alerts for current conditions and track updates and check with the DOC Visitor Centre before your trip.
- Get the latest Fiordland National Park weather forecast – NIWA website.
- Get the latest South Island highway information from the NZ Transport Authority.
Take the right gear for all conditions, enough food and always take a first aid kit.
Communications in case of emergency: We recommend you take a mountain radio and/or personal locator beacon if you are going into the backcountry (i.e. away from roads). Note that your cell phone is unlikely to have coverage in Fiordland, even from high points.
Outdoor gear supplies and hire – Fiordland
Equipment, food and supplies – Mountain Safety Council guidelines
Use of fire
No open fires are permitted in Fiordland National Park (to reduce the risk of wildfires). Take care to put ashes from hut fireplaces in the metal drums to avoid huts burning down. At campsites only use the designated areas.
Flooding and heavy rainfall: During and after heavy rain, flooding of tracks is common. Stream and river levels will drop rapidly once the rain stops. If you are caught between flooded streams seek higher ground and wait for water levels to drop. Do not attempt to cross flooded rivers or streams.
Strong winds: Wherever you are walking in alpine areas or exposed areas on any of the tracks, such as overpasses, saddles and along mountain ridges – you could be caught in strong and/or gusty winds (e.g. over 80km/hour winds).
Take care to dress warmly as the wind-chill danger is worse at these times.
Snow and avalanches: Deep snow is common through winter and spring months. Snow avalanches are common 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. Start zones of avalanche paths often cannot be seen from the track. In danger areas, do not walk below other walkers.
Milford Road: The road journey from Te Anau to Milford Sound is stunning but also very busy so needs good driver care. Winter conditions in May to September can mean snow, ice and avalanche risk. See Milford Road – tips for drivers.
Unsealed roads: Many roads used to access areas in Fiordland are unsealed gravel. See tips for driving on unsealed roads.
Didymo weed – a threat to rivers and lakes
Didymo is an invasive freshwater alga that threatens the health of our waterways. Help us stop it spreading further in Fiordland rivers and lakes.
If you are moving between waterways please check, clean and dry your equipment. Didymo controls for Fiordland National Park.