Introduction

From May to late October, facilities on the Kepler Track are greatly reduced, and there are additional hazards to consider.

Outside the Great Walks season (1 May 2020 - 26 October 2020):

  • 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.

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.

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Snow blankets the alpine section of the Kepler Track, making travel slow
Image: DOC

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.

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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:

Map of avalanche paths on Kepler Track (JPG, 934K) 

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.
  • Bookings are not required:
    • Bunks are first come, first served.
    • Payment is with Backcountry Hut Tickets or a Backcountry Hut Pass - buy these from a DOC visitor centre before you go.
Hut fees

For all visitors:

  • Adult (18+ years): $15 per person, per night
  • Child (17 years and under): free
Campsite fees

For all visitors:

  • Adult (18+ years): $5 per person, per night
  • Child (17 years and under): free

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


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