The Southern Milford-Mackinnon Experience is a day shorter than the original Milford Great Walk. Photo credit DOC/Crystal Brindle

Milford Track partly reopened

by Ann van Engelen

Hundreds of New Zealanders and international visitors will be able to get back out into nature with the Milford Track partially reopening this week, after extensive assessments and repair.

The popular Great Walk has been closed since February 3 after an extreme weather event caused damage, rockfall and slips across northern Fiordland and parts of Southland and Otago.

“It is great to announce that a shortened version of the Milford Track, to be called the Southern Milford-Mackinnon Experience, will be available to walkers from February 26. The Rees Track and Greenstone Caples track are also reopened,” said the Minister of Conservation Eugenie Sage.

“Safety for Department of Conservation staff and visitors has always been the number one priority. DOC staff have worked exceptionally hard to assess the track, huts and other structures.

“Extreme weather events like this storm will become more frequent in future due to climate change-induced heavy rainfall. There is a big job ahead for DOC and others in repairing the facilities that give visitors access to these special areas in Fiordland, and in making them more resilient in the face of a changing climate. Repairs are continuing on other tracks damaged by the storm, and these will be reopened when safe to do so. Now that part of the Milford Track is open, DOC is turning its attention to the Routeburn Track and looking at options for allowing limited public access there.”

The seven-kilometre section of the Milford Track to the north requires significant work and won’t be reopened this season.

“People who were originally booked for the Milford Track will be given priority for the new Southern Milford-Mackinnon Experience. DOC is working really hard to get all the tracks back up and running safely, but in the meantime, there are still many beautiful areas and tracks for people to enjoy.”