Introduction

Find out about the Milford Track between 30 November 2020 and 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

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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.

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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.


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