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Milford Sound

Milford Track in Off-Season (October) - Or Alternate Suggestion(s)?

Hello everyone,

For a number of reasons (mostly outside of my control!) I'll be visiting NZ the second week of October (arriving the 8th) and staying for about 10 days. Had really wanted to do the Milford Track, but understand that's a few weeks too early. So, had two questions:

1) Given that I will be on one stop of a longer route, I wont have a full set of trek gear with me. Would I be able to get gear in the area?

2) Assume I would need to plan on being almost entirely self-sufficient - food, drink, etc? And, any sense of how busy it could be in the time period?

3) If it's just not feasible (or plain dumb), can anyone recommend any alternate walks that are open a bit earlier in the year?

Thank you in advance!

4 Answers

answered by
a VirtualTourist member from State of Western Australia

Check this website for all the information you need re doing the Milford Track in winter

You may well decide to look for an alternative tramp.

answered by
a VirtualTourist member from Christchurch

I would absolutely not do it.

I have posted a lot of info about the Milford Track on my Milford Sound page.

Not only the weather can be a problem but there is just no help out there, the huts are not attended, even some bridges dismantled. So GPS would be essential.

It is only recommended for very experienced hikers.

Even during the season it happens that hikers have to be helicoptered out of the area. When it rains you wade (or swim...) through hip-high water. So imagine how dangerous it can be when there is nobody around. In early October there is still a high chance of snow.

Apart from that, you can hire gear in Te Anau.

You have to carry everything you need as the huts, as said, are not attended.

It is not busy at all, just on the road to Milford Sound.

To be clear: The track is not closed, it is just not supervised and not recommended.

I would not venture out on multi-day hikes in Fiordland at this time of year. Rather go on day hikes you have under better control weather-wise.

A walk I can highly recommend starts right at the Te Anau-Milford Road, up to the Divide/Key Summit. The views are spectacular. This walk is the start/end of the Routeburn Track, and you can extend it past the Key Summit if you get there on a beautiful day. (Also info on my Milford Sound page and the DOC website.)

If you are in the Christchurch area, you can cross Banks Peninsula in a day, hike up Mt. Herbert (Banks Peninsula's highest mountain) and walk along the crater rim of the Port Hills for an entire day. But as above, all these walks are only nice in good weather.

As you have only 10 days I can't imagine that you make it up to Abel Tasman National Park if you are down there in Fiordland, so I do not make any suggestions for up there.

If you are near Mt. Cook National Park, there are fantastic walks, too. Or in the Wanaka/Queenstown region. In Glenorchy, for example, is the start of several other Great Walks, you could also do day walks into these walks in good conditions.

answered by
a VirtualTourist member from Germany

Hi WanderingCamel,

Hop your New Zealand Trip was great ;-)

I'm wondering wether you've done the Milford Track at the end of October?!? I'm in the same situation. I want to walk the track, but I can also only walk at the end of October...

Best Regards,

answered by
a VirtualTourist member from New Zealand

You may get in just at the beginning of the tramping season. Just be aware that it will still be very cold then, and you will need very good protective gear. It's a high rainfall (cold rain) area as well there is still a likelihood of snow, despite what some may tell you. If you want to walk before the season is open, I don't recommend that unless you are a very experienced mountain person and that you have very good gear, as well as communication devices. If the season has opened when you go fine, be sure to book.

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