Plan and Prepare
Milford Track Multi-Day Winter
Te Anau, Te Anau Downs
Te Anau, Te Anau Downs
From 2+ Nights
May & October
Experienced Hikers Only
The Milford Track great walks season is late October to April, but that doesn’t mean you have to miss out if you're here at other times. Track transport is available to take you to the Milford Track and the incredible sights of Fiordland in winter.
Wild, tempestuous, and ruggedly beautiful – all of these words describe the Milford Track between late April and October. During this time of year, the track’s famous waterfalls, forests and mountain views come alive in vivid blues, greens and snowy whites.
If you’re an experienced hiker looking to walk the Milford Track during the off-season, you will enjoy this quieter (and colder) time to experience walking one of the world’s most famous walks.
How to get to the Milford Track outside of the Great Walks season
Track transport to the Milford Track is limited from April to October by demand and weather, but it is possible to arrange bus and boat transport packages. At this time of year, pre-booking your transport is essential.
Milford Track off-season transport options
- Bus journey from Te Anau to Te Anau Downs
- Start early at 8.30am and travel up Lake Te Anau on the water taxi from Te Anau Downs to Glade Wharf to arrive at the start of the Milford Track
- After completion of the track, catch the water taxi from Sandﬂy Point (the end of the Milford Track) to Milford Sound via water taxi
- Bus journey from Milford Sound back to Te Anau Downs or Te Anau
- Option to relocate a vehicle from Te Anau Downs to Milford Sound, often works out more cost effective for groups
- Trips may be cancelled at any time due to weather, avalanche or track conditions in which case full refunds will be issued
We recommend downloading this super handy app to have with you on your hike. It even shows your GPS location so you can see where on the trail you are located while you hike.
Hikers need to be well prepared to walk the Milford Track in May and October. Winter walking conditions can include cold, windy and very wet weather, as well as a risk of flooding, snow, ice and avalanches. Alpine equipment and experience is essential. Because huts are not serviced during the off-season, hikers need to bring fuel for cooking and heating, as well as lighting and personal locator beacons.
During the winter season, bridges may be removed, so knowledge and experience of river crossings is essential. Heavy rainfall makes streams and rivers in Fiordland rise very quickly, and track ﬂooding is common. Be prepared to wait for water levels to decrease before attempting to cross any waterway – it’s a good idea to bring supplies for an extra few days in case you are delayed.
Always check the latest Fiordland weather report and visit the Te Anau DOC office for latest track and weather conditions before you depart, and don’t hesitate to change your plans if you aren’t comfortable. Our cancellation policy is a full refund if we can’t get you there but if you change your mind or plans, please let us know 24 hours prior to departure for a full refund. While the Milford Track is wild and beautiful during the off-season, you do need to be prepared for challenging weather conditions. We’ll be able to help with any off-season hiking queries you may have, but we strongly recommend you also read through the Department of Conservation’s guidelines and tips on preparing for your trip.
Important information, please read:
We require a minimum of 6 passengers to depart from Te Anau Downs to Glade Wharf and 6 to operate our boat pick up at Sandfly Point, Milford Sound.
- You must carry a personal locator beacon within your group which you can hire from one of the locations here or locally here.
- We reserve the right to cancel your booking with no refund if you do not have a locator beacon in your group, appropriate clothing, footwear, and DOC hut tickets ($25 p/night available from any DOC visitor centre) or a DOC Back Country Hut Pass.
- Access to the track is always weather and avalanche risk dependent. We will contact you as soon as possible if the weather forecast is unsafe for us to depart. In this case, we will reschedule or refund you in full.
Decision Making/Departures - No departure to the Milford Track out of season is guaranteed and we cannot provide any guidance or guarantee that we will or will not depart until the day of departure. You must ensure you have flexibility in your itinerary and be prepared to have your plans cancelled as late as the morning of your departure. Ultimately the decision to depart is yours to make.
How to make your decision:
- We will send you an update provided to us by the Department of Conservation on likely weather and track conditions.
- We recommend you visit the Department of Conservation website for more information about hiking the Milford Track outside the Great Walk season. It contains information about the facilities during these months and typical winter/spring conditions and flooding risk.
- We recommend you visit the NZ Avalanche Advisory to assess the current risk of avalanche (predominately an October concern) and Met Service to assess weather and flooding risk.
- Our team are not able to advise you on whether you should/shouldn’t go and if you are unsure or feel you may not be experienced enough in winter conditions, we recommend you do not depart.
Minimum numbers - We understand people prefer to plan with some certainly. In our experience of many years providing Winter Milford Track transport, there is very strong demand for departures for the 2 weeks either side the Great Walks season, particularly for the first few days in May and Labour weekend when the huts are sometimes overfull (there being no booking system for bunks and first in, first served outside the Great Walks season). Outside the first 2 weeks generally, demand is greater for Friday and Saturday departures and in good weather windows. Finally, our company generally transports most hikers out of season, so you have a good chance with us😊. In saying this, having the ability to be flexible due to meeting minimum numbers or weather conditions is essential when planning to hike the Milford Track in winter. Hope this helps and just know that we do our best to keep you updated with current weather forecasts, track conditions and minimum numbers in plenty of time.
Removal of Bridges - The bridges which are in avalanche paths on the track are removed at the end of the Great Walks Season. They are generally removed Kings Birthday Weekend (first weekend in June) and replaced over Labour Weekend (third weekend in October). Here is a link to a map which shows the bridges removed. The red lines indicate about where the bridges are. All the streams have water in them at a normal level so yes, you will get wet feet crossing them. Some of them are knee deep at a low level. Here is a valuable guide about river crossings.
If you’re an experienced hiker, walking the Milford Track during the off-season is an unforgettable adventure
Fiordland Outdoors Co. offers easy track transport options to get to the Milford Track and safely home again at a time of year when many transport services are reduced
Travel with a local, family-run team who have experience in off-season hiking
Our fast, purpose-built water taxi to transfer you to the track and back again in warmth and comfort
- Can you hike the Milford Track out of season in less than 3 nights/4 days?
As the hut bookings in the off-season aren't managed, you can choose how long you spend on the track. As our boat arrives onto the Milford Track at 9.30am most people choose to hike through to Mintaro Hut the first day and spend 2 nights/3 days on the track. Some like to take more time and spend even 5 nights, the choice is yours in the winter season.
- What happens if the weather prevents us from going?
We closely monitor weather forecasts and work with the DOC avalanche team for the most up-to-date track condition information. If the DOC recommend we don't transport anyone due to the weather/conditions you will receive a full refund right up to the day of departure. All cancellations received within 24 hours of departure will be refunded in full as per our risk-free 24-hour cancellation and refund policy.
- What about the avalanche risk?
Avalanche risk is generally present in the month of October following winter snowfall and subsequent melt. During May, the risk is predominately flooding. If there is an unacceptable risk due to avalanche or flooding, departures will be cancelled. We are 100% focused on hiker safety.
- What is the minimum number of passengers required to depart?
We require at least 6 people to offer our track transport services outside the Great Walks season. However, you can choose to pay the extra fares needed to guarantee a departure.
- When are the bridges removed from the Milford Track?
Generally, the bridges that are in avalanche-prone areas, are removed on Queens Birthday weekend and put back in place over Labour Weekend. We will advise you when you book if this is any different.