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.
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.
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:
- 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 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.
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)