WINTER WALKING AND HIKING IN NEW ZEALAND

The Great Walks are popular for a reason.  They are premier tracks that pass through diverse and spectacular scenery.  From alpine passes with rugged mountain peaks to native forests and vast valleys, they will not disappoint!  While the vast majority of people hiking in Fiordland and Mt Aspiring National Parks will do so between late October and the last day of April, you are still able to hike these trails in the snowy winter months.  You MUST be well informed and well prepared however and this is where Easyhike can help.  Get out there and do some winter walking!

All three of the Great Walks in our local Fiordland/Mt Aspiring area cross alpine sections and avalanche paths.  To walk the entire Routeburn Track, Kepler Track or Milford Track in Winter you MUST have the specialized skills and equipment for travel in these alpine areas and to cross avalanche paths.  For your own safety, we recommend you DO NOT walk these trails in their entirety, however there are some DOC huts you can visit without venturing into avalanche terrain.  Easyhike can assist you with information, food and equipment to still enjoy our winter outdoors, while choosing a safer 'wee gem' of spot to visit.


Winter Walking Routeburn Track

Milford Winter Walking

Kepler Track Winter Walking

OVERNIGHT WINTER WALKING

Luckily there are a few DOC huts in both Fiordland National Park and Mt Aspiring National Park which can be easily accessed for an overnight winter walk experience if you are keen to layer up and soak up some adventure.  Our Winter Overnight Package is a one night hiking escape with all the essentials you need to enjoy Fiordland in winter – A “snack sized” hiking adventure to give you a taste of the New Zealand Wilderness!  The crisp days and breathtaking views really are so worth the effort!

With our overnight get-away's, you hike into a Department of Conservation (DOC) hut for one night and walk back the next day.   Perhaps explore side trails along the way or even walk further along the track.  At the end of day one, settle in to enjoy a classic kiwi, candle lit (or torch light!) experience of staying in a DOC hut.  Before you go, we provide you with your food and hiking gear for the night.  Just make sure you also take multiple layers of warm clothing (more on this below!) and an activity (cards, travel games, puzzles) planned for after dinner in the hut!

You can take our Winter Overnight Package to any of the Fiordland Great Walks (Milford Track, Routeburn Track or Kepler Track) or other lovely trails in our area.  These are stunning tracks, accessible from Te Anau or Queenstown.  The Milford Track DOC huts require water taxi transport so these can be a little trickier to access - however we can make it work for you if you really want to step foot on the Milford Track - which is the Jewel in the crown of Fiordland National Park.

WHATS INCLUDED

  • We deliver your food and gear to your accommodation the night before your hike - you add your personal belongings and a sense of adventure!
  • Hiking/Hut Food: Lunch, Dinner, Dessert, Breakfast, Snacks
  • Equipment: Pack (inc, cover & liner) Sleeping Bag (inc liner) Head Lamp, First Aid Kit, Rain Jacket, Rain Pants, Thermos/Plates/Pot/Cups/Cutlery, Gas and Cooker
  • Local Information: Ask us about hidden gems and our recommendation's on where to take this overnight package.

Optional Extras - Hiking Poles, Transport Bookings as required including Water Taxi and/or Bus Transport.

WHAT YOU NEED

  • Hiking boots - ideally worn in to your feet.
  • Appropriate clothing to keep you warm - even if you get wet. (See Bobbie's Great Walk Clothing List and add more polyester and merino clothing layers as this list was written for Summer hiking)  Remember: Both polyester fleece and natural merino layers are a great start, plus a down jacket to stay/become warm even if you get wet.  Cotton is NOT a good choice as it absorbs water and stays heavy/wet/cold longer than wool or polyester.
  • Personal effects, medications and toiletries for the night - remember keep weight to a minimum.  You don't need an entire large tube of toothpaste each... you get the drift.
  • Hut entertainment - perhaps a night cap or travel game/cards/puzzle
  • Sense of adventure

TO DO LIST

  • Book your Winter Overnight Package with us so we can prepare your food and gear.
  • Choose your food selections and tell us where to deliver your overnight package (this is likely your accommodation the night before in Te Anau, Queenstown or Glenorchy)
  • Visit DOC to purchase/collect your hut tickets while you check track conditions and the most recent weather report.

FURTHER INFORMATION - Facilities on the Great Walks in Winter

From Early May to late October, outside the Great Walk Season facilities on the Great Walks tracks are greatly reduced.  This means unbridged streams, pit toilets instead of flush loos, no gas cookers and little (or possibly no) firewood or running water in the huts (DOC huts go from being 'Great Walk huts' to 'Serviced huts').  If you are happy to take the extra step and 'rough it' overnight you can still enjoy what Fiordland walks have to offer without the crowds.

Accommodation and Package Duration

You will need one night/two days for this getaway.  Make the most of your time out in these beautiful places and linger!  The hiking can be as long or as short as you like (depending on your hut location choice.  Your accommodation will likely be in a Department of Conservation 'Serviced hut' which will have communal bunks with mattresses and shared facilities (water supply, toilets and heating).  You need to visit DOC and purchase your hut tickets (not included in our package) before you go.  These cost: Adult $15, Youth (11-17 years) $7.50, Children/Infants FREE.

Definition of a 'Serviced hut' from the DOC website:

Serviced Huts have mattresses, water supply, toilets, hand washing facilities and heating with fuel available. They may have cooking facilities with fuel and a warden.

Weather and Track Conditions

More than ever, hiking in winter means paying special attention to the weather.  The Fiordland winter environment can be very cold and wet with snow and ice common in high areas.  Daylight hours are much shorter and light is low, due to the (stunning, snow-capped) mountains.

It can REALLY rain here in Fiordland - at any time of year.  It is certainly wise to look at the weather forecast and make a decision about your plans.  While some people really don't like being out in the rain (you WILL get 'wet through' after a while if you are walking in the rain - even if you are wearing the best jacket on the market...) for others the rain brings a further sense of adventure and experience.  You have to be out there and on the spot to witness some of the most beautiful scenes unfold as the clouds clear (albeit for a brief time before more rain)!  It is so important to visit the Department of Conservation and be well informed about the weather and track conditions - for your own safety and enjoyment.

Walking Distance

This will vary depending on which track you hike and which hut you choose, we can taylor this to suit your fitness level and skills.  Our favourite choices are the Luxmore hut on the Kepler (13.8km each way) or the Howden hut on the Routeburn Track (4km each way)

Booking Details and Cancellation Policy

We get it, its winter and the weather can disrupt your plans.  It is still best to give us a heads up as soon as you can if you are thinking about booking our Winter Overnight Package to give us time to get things prepared to help you the best we can. Otherwise you can book any time until the day you want to head into the trail.  (Please note: If you are booking last minute, we may not be able to assist you as well as if you gave us some preparation time!)

If you change your mind due to the weather and no longer want to walk, that is fine.  Tell us the morning before your walk start date and we will refund you 100%.  If we have booked other services for you they may have a different cancellation policy, and if so, this part of your refund will reflect their policy.  If you decide not to walk once we have delivered the food and gear to you, and you return the gear unused/in the condition, we will refund you 50%.  Even though the food is packaged, we won't use this again for another customer due to maintaining our high standards of customer service.

Book below, or let us know if you have any queries - we are happy to help nut out a great plan for your trip!  Call us toll free from a NZ number on 0800 327 944 or int 0064 2144 5341 or email info@easyhike.co.nz.

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