May to October (winter season)
IntroductionWalking the Kepler Track during winter should only be attempted if you have alpine skills, equipment and experience.
Outside the Great Walks season (1 May 2023 – 23 October 2023)
- It can be cold and wet, with ice, snow and short daylight hours.
- DOC does not manage hazards such as avalanches and flooding.
- There are additional hazards to consider.
Walking the track at this time should only be attempted by fit, experienced and well-equipped people.
For safety reasons the Kepler Track doesn't operate as a Great Walk/Easier tramping track outside the Great walks season.
Fees and bookings
Outside of the Great Walks season, hut fees are reduced and bookings are not required. Full information can be found in the fees and booking section for this track.
Expect challenging track conditions
The track over the alpine section is not marked and is often blanketed in thick snow. The side track to the Luxmore Caves can also be very slippery and icy.
Snow blankets the alpine section of the Kepler Track, making travel slow
Conditions will be wet and cold with snow
During the winter months Fiordland can be very wet and cold. Daylight is limited and the high mountains let little sunlights into the valleys. Alpine areas are usually covered in snow. Dress for these conditions.
Avalanches will be frequent
The Kepler Track has a lot of challenging and complex avalanche terrain. Avalanches are frequent. There are 9 avalanche paths, and most have the potential to cross the track. In some instances, by following the track, you'll be crossing avalanche paths - you may need to navigate around them.
If you are going into places avalanches could occur, be sure you:
- have checked the New Zealand Avalanche Advisory for Fiordland and the Avalanche Terrain Exposure Scale (ATES) for Fiordland
- have the skills for the ATES class you are going into
- have talked to the Fiordland National Park Visitor Centre
- take an avalanche transceiver, avalanche probe and a snow shovel. Know how to use these tools.
Expect reduced hut facilities
Hut facilities are reduced:
- 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.
- No emergency radio facilities.
- No rangers based at the huts.
Expect reduced transport services
All transport must be arranged before starting the track. During winter, transport operators require minimum numbers and do not always operate a daily service. Transport arrangements can be affected by bad weather. You must discuss an alternative option with transport operators before you begin your walk.
Be totally self-sufficient
You need to be totally self-sufficient. In addition to what to take in the Great Walks season, you also need:
- food for at least two extra days
- stove and gas for cooking
- lighter or matches
- alpine equipment: ice axe and crampons
- avalanche equipment: beacon, snow shovel, avalanche probe
- personal locator beacon
- mountain radio or satellite messenger (optional)
Luxmore Hut after a snow storm – alpine equipment is essential