Introduction

From late October to April, experience 'the finest walk in the world' - along valleys carved by glaciers, through ancient rainforests and past cascading waterfalls. From May to late October, it can be cold and wet, with ice, snow and short daylight hours - only go if you have alpine, river crossing and navigation skills.

Highlights


2020/2021 bookings

Bookings are open for trips from 30 November 2020 to 30 April 2021, on the fully open Milford Track.

Bookings will open on Tuesday 15 September 2020 at 9:30 am, for trips from 27 October to 29 November 2020 on the partially open Milford Track. The booking system for this period (huts/campsites booking system) will be different to the booking system for the period when the track is fully open (Great Walks booking system). You’ll need to create an account on the huts/campsites system, even if you already have an account on the Great Walks system. It's best to do this before making a booking.


Video

Track overview

53.5 km one way

Seasonal restrictions

In the Great Walks season (27 October 2020 – 30 April 2021):

Best time to walk the track - there are more facilities and fewer hazards. Bookings are required for huts and transport.

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

Walking the track should only be attempted by fit, experienced and well-equipped people - facilities are greatly reduced and there are additional hazards.

Dog access

No dogs

Brochures

About this track

Walking in May to late October

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

  • it can be cold and wet, with ice, snow and short daylight hours
  • avalanche-prone bridges across some major watercourses are removed
  • DOC does not manage hazards such as flooding and avalanches
  • facilities are greatly reduced

Walking the track at this time should only be attempted by fit, experienced and well equipped people

Milford Track is partially open

Until 30 November 2020, the section between Dumpling Hut and Sandfly Point is closed due to signficant storm damage.

While the track is repaired, you can only do a return walk from Glade Wharf. Until 27 October 2020, you can go far as Dumpling Hut (Dumpling Hut will be closed from 27 October to 29 November 2020).

Expect challenging track conditions

Many of the bridges are removed over winter to avoid damage from avalanches, so you must be competent at crossing large, swift, icy rivers.

The track over Mackinnon Pass is not marked and is often covered in deep snow. You will need to have navigation and alpine skills to traverse this section of the track. View current conditions on the MacKinnon Pass webcam.

milford-track-snow-565.jpg
Thick snow blankets Mackinnon Pass

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 sunlight into the valleys. Alpine areas are usually covered in snow. Dress for these conditions.

Illustration of winter clothing layers

Avalanches will be frequent

The Milford Track is mainly complex avalanche terrain. Avalanches are frequent. There are over 57 avalanche paths, which may bring avalanche debris to the valley floor. Some of these have the potential to cross the Milford Track – their start zones cannot be seen from the track.

If you are going into places avalanches could occur, be sure you:

Maps of avalanche paths: Clinton Valley avalanche paths (JPG, 1,742K) | Arthur Valley avalanche paths (JPG, 1,703K)

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 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

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.

Contact a transport operator for information:

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)

osc-winter-565.jpg

Walking from 27 October 2020 to 29 November 2020

Milford Track is partially open

From 27 October 2020 to 29 November 2020, the section between Dumpling Hut and Sandfly Point is closed due to signficant storm damage.

While the track is repaired, you can only do a return walk from Glade Wharf. You can stay in Clinton and/or Mintaro Huts, in any order, for a maximum of 2 nights in each hut.

Bookings are required and will open on Tuesday 15 September 2020 at 9:30 am. The booking system for this period (huts/campsites booking system) will be different to the booking system for the period when the track is fully open (Great Walks booking system). You’ll need to create an account on the huts/campsites system, even if you already have an account on the Great Walks system. It's best to do this before making a booking.

  • Track is well marked and signposted, but some sections are steep and rough
  • Cold temperatures, snow, strong winds and heavy rain can occur anytime
  • DOC manages avalanche risk to a low level and walkers may be flown (at their cost) over dangerous sections
  • Track is not recommended for children under the age of 10, due to the exposed  mountainous environment and often adverse weather conditions.

On this page:

Highlights

  • Take your camera and capture the stunning panoramas from Mackinnon Pass across ancient valleys carved by glaciers.
  • Enjoy the emerald waters of the Clinton River.

Explore with Google Street ViewWatch videos

milford-mackinnon-565.jpg
Mackinnon Pass
Image: John Strother ©

Walking options

From 27 October 2020 to 29 November 2020, you can only do a return walk from Glade Wharf, staying in Clinton and/or Mintaro Huts.

Guided options

Consider guided walks on the Miford Track (Destination Fiordland website)

Places to stay

Only 2 huts (Clinton and Mintaro) are open from 27 October 2020 to 29 November 2020. These must be booked well in advance; they can be booked in any order. Camping is not permitted on the Milford Track.

Hut facilities

Huts have bunks, mattresses, heating, toilets, basic cooking facilities, solar-powered lighting and cold running water. A DOC ranger is in residence. The huts do not provide cooking utensils or showers.

Fees and bookings

New Zealand citizens and those ordinarily resident in New Zealand*:

  • Adult (18+ years): $70 per person, per night
  • Child (17 years and under): free but booking still required

International visitors:

  • Adult (18+ years): $70 per person, per night
  • Child (17 years and under): $35 per person, per night

* New Zealand rates:

  • "Ordinarily resident in New Zealand" means those:
    • who hold a residence class, student or work visa; and
    • who have lived in New Zealand for six of the previous 12 months; and
    • for whom New Zealand is their primary place of established residence.
  • Proof of eligibility will be required for the New Zealand rate - see acceptable eligibility proof.
Discounts

A 10% discount is available to members, staff and instructors of the following organisations, who also hold a valid 12 month Backcountry Hut Pass: NZ Mountain Safety Council; NZ Federated Mountain Clubs; NZ Deer Stalkers Association; NZ Land Search and Rescue (LandSAR); Scouts New Zealand; GirlGuiding NZ.

Backcountry Hut Passes can be used. To pay with your Backcountry Hut Pass, create/update your account on our huts/campsite booking system. Under 'Apply for a discount', select 'Backcountry Hut Pass Holder' and upload a scan of your pass. Once we've verified your pass, it will automatically be applied when you make a booking.

Bookings

Huts must be booked in advance. Bookings will open on Tuesday 15 September 2020 at 9:30 am. Book online

Getting there

Milford Track starts on Lake Te Anau. From Te Anau, take a bus or private transport to Te Anau Downs (30 minutes), then a boat trip to Glade Wharf at the head of Lake Te Anau (1 hour 15 minutes).

From 27 October 2020 to 29 November 2020, the track also finishes at Glade Wharf.

Transport must be booked in advance. There is no vehicle or private access to the start/end of the track.

Durng the Great Walks season, full transport packages are available from one of these independent operators. Contact the operator for further information.

What to take

To have a safe and enjoyable trip, it's essential you have appropriate clothing and equipment. Find out what to take.

Know before you go

The track will not be suitable for all walkers. Parts of the Milford Track are exposed, steep, slippery, rough and muddy. If you choose to climb Mackinnon Pass, you will go up 500 m, and down 500 m again. 

Weather conditions can change quickly in any season. Fiordland National Park experiences very high rainfall (up to 9000 mm per year) and weather conditions can change quickly in any season. Cold temperatures, snow, strong winds and heavy rain can occur at any time of the year. Be prepared for all conditions. Check the Fiordland National Park weather forecast (MetService website). View current conditions on the MacKinnon Pass webcam.

milford-track-november-565.jpg
Milford Track in November - cold temperatures, snow, strong winds and heavy rain can occur anytime.

The risk of avalanche can extend into December. During the Great Walks season DOC manages this risk to a low level and walkers may be flown (at their cost) over dangerous sections.

There is no cellphone coverage. 

Your safety is your responsibility. Know the Outdoor Safety Code - 5 simple rules to ensure you have a great trip and make it home.

Track description

Glade Wharf to Clinton Hut

Time: 1–1 hr 30 min
Distance: 5 km

After a boat cruise fromTe Anau Downs (1 hour 15 minutes), take a leisurely walk through beautiful beech forest along the banks of the Clinton River to Clinton Hut, where all walkers spend the firstnight. Once you arrive, take some time to checkout the great swimming holes near the hut, or take a short walk around the wetland boardwalk.

Side trip: Wetland Walkway

Time: 15 min return

A short side track is signposted 10 min before Clinton Hut. Guided walks with the DOC ranger maybe available during the late afternoon.

Clinton Hut to Mintaro Hut

Time: 6 hr
Distance: 16.5 km

A gradual climb follows the Clinton River to its source, Lake Mintaro, at the base of the renowned Mackinnon Pass. Past Hirere Falls you will get your first view of Mackinnon Pass and the impressive Pompolona icefield. You’ll be dwarfed by the sheer scale of the rock walls towering above on either side as you walk up the Clinton Valley, and will pass through changing vegetation as you climb higher towards Mintaro Hut.

Note, Mintaro Hut could pose a risk in the event of a severe earthquake. For full details, see Know before you go on the Mintaro Hut page.

Side trip - Minatro Hut to Mackinnon Pass and return

Time: 3 hr return

Climb to Mackinnon Pass and the memorial to explorer Quintin McKinnon, with exceptional views of Lake Mintaro and the Clinton Canyon along the way. The memorial is a great place to take in the awe-inspiring panoramas, before reaching the highest point on the track and Mackinnon Pass Shelter (1154 m).

Return to Mintaro Hut via the same track.

Mintaro Hut to Glade Wharf

Time: 7 hr
Distance: 21 km

Return to Glade Wharf via the same track.


osc-summer-565.jpg

Walking from 30 November 2020 to 30 April 2021

Milford Track is fully open

From 30 November 2020 to 30 April 2021, the full Milford Track from Glade Wharf to Sandfly Point is open.

  • Track is well marked and signposted, but some sections are steep and rough
  • Cold temperatures, snow, strong winds and heavy rain can occur anytime
  • DOC manages avalanche risk to a low level and walkers may be flown (at their cost) over dangerous sections
  • Track is not recommended for children under the age of 10, due to the exposed  mountainous environment and often adverse weather conditions.

On this page:

Highlights

  • Take your camera and capture the stunning panoramas from Mackinnon Pass across ancient valleys carved by glaciers.
  • Take a side trip to Sutherland Falls, which drops 580 m.
  • Enjoy the emerald waters of the Clinton River.

Explore with Google Street ViewWatch videos

milford-mackinnon-565.jpg
Mackinnon Pass
Image: John Strother ©

Walking options

The Milford Track can only be walked in one direction over 3 nights and 4 days, with one night in each hut (to maintain a limit imposed by the 'Fiordland National Park management plan' of 40 overnight walkers entering the track on any one day).

Guided options

Consider guided walks on the Miford Track (Destination Fiordland website)

Places to stay

There are 3 huts on the Milford Track, which must be booked well in advance during the Great Walks season. Camping is not permitted on the Milford Track.

Hut facilities

Huts have bunks, mattresses, heating, toilets, basic cooking facilities, solar-powered lighting and cold running water. A DOC ranger is in residence. The huts do not provide cooking utensils or showers.

Fees and bookings

Huts

New Zealand citizens and those ordinarily resident in New Zealand*:

  • Adult (18+ years): $70 per person, per night
  • Child (17 years and under): free but booking still required

International visitors:

  • Adult (18+ years): $70 per person, per night
  • Child (17 years and under): $35 per person, per night

* New Zealand rates:

  • "Ordinarily resident in New Zealand" means those:
    • who hold a residence class, student or work visa; and
    • who have lived in New Zealand for six of the previous 12 months; and
    • for whom New Zealand is their primary place of established residence.
  • Proof of eligibility will be required for the New Zealand rate - see acceptable eligibility proof.
Discounts

A 10% discount is available to members, staff and instructors of the following organisations, who also hold a valid 12 month Backcountry Hut Pass: NZ Mountain Safety Council; NZ Federated Mountain Clubs; NZ Deer Stalkers Association; NZ Land Search and Rescue (LandSAR); Scouts New Zealand; GirlGuiding NZ.

Discounts are not available online. To receive the discount we need to sight your membership card and Backcountry Hut Pass, so please visit a DOC visitor centre in person. If you get a discount you won't be charged a booking fee.

Bookings

Huts must be booked in advance. We'll provide two weeks' notice of the date bookings will open. December/January is usually fully booked within minutes, the remainder of the season is usually fully booked within weeks. Book online

Getting there

Milford Track starts on Lake Te Anau. From Te Anau, take a bus or private transport to Te Anau Downs (30 minutes), then a boat trip to Glade Wharf at the head of Lake Te Anau (1 hour 15 minutes).

The track finishes at Sandfly Point on Milford Sound. Take a boat trip (20 minutes) to Milford Sound/Piopiotahi, where there are bus services back to Te Anau and on to Queenstown.

Transport must be booked in advance. There is no vehicle or private access to the start/end of the track.

View map of transport to book (PDF, 1,339K)

Durng the Great Walks season, full transport packages are available from one of these independent operators. Contact the operator for further information.

What to take

To have a safe and enjoyable trip, it's essential you have appropriate clothing and equipment. Find out what to take.

Know before you go

The track will not be suitable for all walkers. Parts of the Milford Track are exposed, steep, slippery, rough and muddy. On the third day you will climb over 500 m to Mackinnon Pass and then descend 1000 m to Dumpling Hut. On the fourth day you must walk 18 km, reaching Sandfly Point in time to meet the early afternoon boat. 

Weather conditions can change quickly in any season. Fiordland National Park experiences very high rainfall (up to 9000 mm per year) and weather conditions can change quickly in any season. Cold temperatures, snow, strong winds and heavy rain can occur at any time of the year. Be prepared for all conditions. Check the Fiordland National Park weather forecast (MetService website). View current conditions on the MacKinnon Pass webcam.

milford-track-november-565.jpg
Milford Track in November - cold temperatures, snow, strong winds and heavy rain can occur anytime.

The risk of avalanche can extend into December. During the Great Walks season DOC manages this risk to a low level and walkers may be flown (at their cost) over dangerous sections.

There is no cellphone coverage. 

Your safety is your responsibility. Know the Outdoor Safety Code - 5 simple rules to ensure you have a great trip and make it home.

Track description

Day 1 – Glade Wharf to Clinton Hut

Time: 1–1 hr 30 min
Distance: 5 km

After a boat cruise fromTe Anau Downs (1 hour 15 minutes), take a leisurely walk through beautiful beech forest along the banks of the Clinton River to Clinton Hut, where all walkers spend the firstnight. Once you arrive, take some time to checkout the great swimming holes near the hut, or take a short walk around the wetland boardwalk.

Side trip: Wetland Walkway

Time: 15 min return

A short side track is signposted 10 min before Clinton Hut. Guided walks with the DOC ranger maybe available during the late afternoon.

Day 2 – Clinton Hut to Mintaro Hut

Time: 6 hr
Distance: 16.5 km

A gradual climb follows the Clinton River to its source, Lake Mintaro, at the base of the renowned Mackinnon Pass. Past Hirere Falls you will get your first view of Mackinnon Pass and the impressive Pompolona icefield. You’ll be dwarfed by the sheer scale of the rock walls towering above on either side as you walk up the Clinton Valley, and will pass through changing vegetation as you climb higher towards Mintaro Hut.

Note, Mintaro Hut could pose a risk in the event of a severe earthquake. For full details, see Know before you go on the Mintaro Hut page.

Day 3 – Mintaro Hut to Dumpling Hut

Time: 6–7 hr
Distance: 14 km

Climb to Mackinnon Pass and the memorial to explorer Quintin McKinnon, with exceptional views of Lake Mintaro and the Clinton Canyon along the way. The memorial is a great place to take in the awe-inspiring panoramas, before reaching the highest point of the track and Mackinnon Pass Shelter (1154 m).

From here, you’ll drop steadily through an attractive alpine garden to the valley floor, passing several waterfalls along the Roaring Burn River before arriving at Quintin Shelter. On the way to Dumpling Hut take a moment to admire Sutherland Falls in the distance.

Side trip – Sutherland Falls

Time: 1 hr 30 min return

The side trip to Sutherland Falls is a definite highlight that is highly recommended and well worth the effort. The impressive falls drop 580 m in 3 leaps from Lake Quill.

Sutherland Falls on Google Street View

Day 4 – Dumpling Hut to Sandfly Point

Time: 5 hr 30 min – 6 hr
Distance: 18 km

From Dumpling Hut, follow Arthur River to the historic Boatshed. Further along the track, you will reach the dramatic Mackay Falls and intriguing Bell Rock. Admire the man-made rock cuttings alongside the Arthur River and Lake Ada, before spending the last 3 km on a smooth, wide track constructed by a prison labour gang between 1890 and 1892.

A short boat ride from Sandfly Point will take you to your journey’s end, with world-famous views of Milford Sound/Piopiotahi along the way.


osc-summer-565.jpg

Contacts

Te Rua-o-te-moko / Fiordland National Park Visitor Centre
Phone:   +64 3 249 7924
Fax:   +64 4 471 1117
Email:   fiordlandvc@doc.govt.nz
Address:   Fiordland National Park
Visitor Centre
Lakefront Drive
Te Anau 9600
Postal Address:   PO Box 29
Te Anau 9640
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