Introduction

From May to late October, facilities on the Routeburn 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
  • 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

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